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Census begins

Drug addicts rising alarmingly

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Md Joynal Abedin Khan :
As drug addiction is rising countrywide alarmingly, a study on the number of addicts started Wednesday in the capital and elsewhere under the auspices of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) with a view to  taking proper measures to address the menace.
The government is attempting to make a list of drug addicts in Bangladesh for the first time, said Md Khorshed Alam, the DNC's assistant director (media).
IRG Development Service Limited will conduct the study, 'Baseline Study on Drug Addiction in Bangladesh', he said, declining to elaborate.
The study will be conducted in three phases. After conducting the first phase of study, 125 drug addicts will be rehabilitated in the country's 25 rehabilitation centres.
The second and third phases of survey will start next year, which are to ascertain the sources of drugs and the number of drug users.
A high official of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) said some 9, 220 drug addicts are undergoing treatment at 145 drug rehabilitation centres.
According to a recent  survey  of an ICCDR,B journal, the number of drug addicts stood at around 80 lakh.
Of them, 13 per cent are females and the rest 87 per cent are males. Most of these drug addicts are lower and middle class people between ages from 18 and 25.
These drug addicts spend around Tk 70 crore every day, said experts and social scientists.
The drug addicts are committing various crimes like murder, rape, hijacking, robberies, smuggling, child trafficking and prostitution for collecting money, they said.
Children of poor and rich economic backgrounds are falling prey to this curse because of the apathy of the families concerned.
Some 5 lakh new drug addicts are being added every year. The number is increasing. Among the total drug addicts, 41 percent are unemployed and 14 percent students. That means some 55 percent are dependent on others for money. They are somehow collecting money for purchasing drugs. Some 50,000 cases are filed over drugs every year. But only 1,000 cases are settled. Thus, the criminals are rising in numbers.
Professor Dr Arup Ratan Chowdhury, President of MANAS and member of National Board of Drug Control, said,  " Smoking is the key to addiction. A study shows that smokers constitute 98 percent of drug addicts. Of them, 44 percent commit offences."
Professor Dr Zinat Huda of the Department of Sociology at Dhaka University, said, "Family bondage is a big issue as it prevailed earlier in respect of all families. We had religious values and some instructions from families. Now, parents are not able to spend time for their children. We are running after money, but indifferent to our children."  
Dr Farzana Rahman Dina, Assistant Professor of National Institute of Mental Health, said, "I learnt from a female patient that she was involved in prostitution to collect money to take drugs. A patient said she sold her daughter to get money to pay for drugs. Some mothers urged us to kill her son when they brought them (addicted sons) to the hospital as they were being exploited and tortured by their addicted sons."
Afia Sultana Moni, a teacher at a government primary school in Nilphamari said, "Drug use shown on television, films, magazines and public displays can only attract children, if not confuse them, about the serious health hazards that are associated with drug abuse."
A source at Karwan Bazaar slum area said, "Without a nexus with law enforcers it is not possible to run illegal drug business," he said.
Khandakar Rakibur Rahman, former Director General of the Department of Narcotics Control, said, "The drug offenders languishing in jail in the country constitute 30 percent of the total drug prisoners across the globe. The law enforcers are performing their duties to arrest the drug offenders."
"We have to create public awareness to fight the drug abuse effectively. The drug addicts should be treated well. They ought to be integrated into the mainstream society. Their employment is a must," he said.

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