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Beware of the ‘ice age’

Updated Jan 11, 2017 09:27am

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PESHAWAR: Rise in the use of ice or methamphetamine as party drug in Peshawar is alarming and more terrifying is the fact that families have no clue until the worst side effects start to show.

Recently few gaming zones in a posh locality of Peshawar were raided by the district administration and police and found school boys using banned Sheesha and Oxygen however, some locals suspected sale of ice too.

A youth, who is working at a restaurant using ice in the same locality, did not disclose where from he was buying the drug but shared his feelings after he used the drug.

“When I take a dose it keeps me alert and awake for hours. I don’t sleep. I don’t know what I am doing after that,” he said on condition of anonymity. Despite his low income, he was somehow managing to buy the drug.


Use of methamphetamine as party drug in Peshawar is alarmingly high


“Ice, a potent stimulant drug, also referred to as crystal or crystal meth since it comes as a powder or crystals is being used by men and women of different ages and backgrounds,” said Dr Mian Iftikhar Hussain, a known psychiatrist, who runs a detoxification and rehabilitation hospital in Peshawar.

His is one of the very few health facilities that treat such patients. Treatment is itself a long and painful process expanding over months and needing huge financial resources and Job’s patience from the family and doctors handling such addicts.

“The drug is also being used by the professional women dancers for it keeps them awake for long hours,” said Dr Hussain while keeping the identity of the patients he was treating secret for the obvious reasons.

In the 1980s and 90s, provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjoining tribal area was a hippie trail due to easy availability of fine quality hashish (charas), then later in 90s heroin addicts could be seen under the underpasses, green belts teaching a lesson to the passersby about terrifying consequences of the use of the illicit drug.

However, now the use of methamphetamines (crystal meth) is relatively new but gaining popularity fast among men, women and youth.

“It can keep you alert and active for hours that’s why dependency on the drug leads to paranoia, hallucinations and behavioural issues. Long-term use can lead to psychosis and violent behaviour,” said Dr Hussain. He mentioned a case wherein a successful businessman after excessive use of ice got so uncontrollably violent that he killed his wife.

“Usually parents or the family don’t notice any change at first in the drug user. It is the violent behaviour that attracts attention,” he said. He added that the entire family needed to care for such patients.

“They need to be under close watch for at least six months once they get out of rehab. They should not have a cellular phone and should not be allowed alone out of home,” said Dr Hussain, explaining what family needed to do even after the ice-addict rehabilitated at a health facility.

While young and grown men and women are at risk of ice, police blame the weak narcotic’s law for failure to curb the drug peddlers but the senior lawyers say the police are at fault as Control of Narcotic Substance Act, 1997 could control the drug smuggling and abuse.

Ice, which is available for Rs4,000 to Rs6,000 per gram, is expensive and addict develops dependency so with each increased use of the drug the condition of addict and dependency on the drugs worsen.

It is the little expensive amount of the deadly drug that is the very reason it is easy to peddle and hide as well as difficult for the law enforcers to frame or charge the arrested peddlers under the relevant narcotic law.

“During many raids in the city we recovered ice from the drug smugglers but they got away with crime as the amount of ice in grams worth a lot of money was not punishable under the law. They were just fined and released,” said a police official on condition of anonymity.

However, Noor Alam, a senior lawyer, contested it and said that under 9(C) of CNSA, 1997 smugglers selling ice which, a psychotropic drug, were charged. In some cases smugglers accused and charged with smuggling some 500 grams to a little more than a kilogram were sentenced to 14 years imprisonment under the CNSA 1997.

“The problem is that police think of alcohol and charas as drugs but are not much aware of the more serious ice drug,” said Mr Alam. He said that due to alertness and euphoric feelings, the ice users felt after taking it, it had become popular with students during preparation for examinations.

Published in Dawn January 11th, 2017

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