Iraq: Health official note sharp increases in drug abuseWhen Iraqis start battling chronic obesity, perhaps then we can truly say, "Mission accomplished!" and start bringing our troops home.
BAGHDAD, 25 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - Iraqis are increasingly turning to drug abuse as a way to escape--albeit temporarily--the chronic environment of insecurity, lawlessness and poverty, say health workers and government officials.
"Iraqis are consuming illicit drugs like they never have before," said Kamel Ali, head of the health ministry's drug-prevention programme. "Each day, they're shifting to more dangerous drugs due to the stress associated with violence."
According to Ali, the number of drug abusers countrywide has increased by about 50 percent since the beginning of the year, with an estimated 2 percent of the total population now addicted to illegal narcotics. Ali added, however, that this figure could be much higher because many local physicians lack the specialised knowledge to diagnose cases of drug addiction. "We have very good laboratories for toxicology, but this isn't enough," he said. "Different kinds of drugs are entering the country, and many of the cases seen by doctors are those of drug abusers who are also alcoholics."