Drug addiction death toll rising in Iranian-Kurdistan
In 2015, a larger number of drug addicts in Rojhalat (Iranian Kurdistan) lost their lives to substance abuse. In Sina (also known as Sanandaj), the capital city of the Kurdistan Province located in the North West of Iran, at least 29 men and four women died in 2015 as a result of drug addiction.
The rate of drug addiction in Iran is on the rise despite the fatal penalty for drug users and distributors. Being a neighbour to Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, drugs are accessible and inexpensive in Iran.
The Director of Research and Education at the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Iran, Hamid Sarami, said in a conference in Ahwaz that Iran has approximately 1.3 million registered drug addicts. The number does not include occasional users and unregistered addicts.
Of these addicts, 58% are reportedly younger than 34, 9% are women, and 22% have higher education. Thus, some 10 million Iranians of the 80 million population have to struggle with the consequences of drug addiction.
Sarami also outlined that drug addiction has killed an average of seven people per day over the past two decades and is the second largest cause of death in Iran after road accidents, according to the Iranian news agency Aftab.
Azad Heidari, a doctorate student from Sanandaj, told K24 that “Drugs are much cheaper and more accessible than alcohol. The youth in Sanandaj have no form of entertainment and drugs are very common nowadays. Some just don’t know their limits and get themselves in trouble.”
In addition to the availability of drugs, Heidari pointed out that most of the people he knows in the city who become hooked on substances are those with family issues.
“Some of my friends who are now desperate addicts were the ones who had problems with their parents and consider drug abuse and self-destruction as a form of revenge on their family,”Heidari said.
Psychologists believe that mental health issues and addiction are often intertwined problems. In Kurdistan, an ostracised and underdeveloped region of Iran where citizens struggle with excessive economic and political suppression, there are not enough awareness and support programs for people with mental health problems.