Amphetamine abuse is worldwide, even in extremely conservative countries like those found in the Middle East. According to research done by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, amphetamine and other drug abuse is very prevalent in the Middle East. In fact, the 2013 World Drug Report stated that as much as 30 percent of amphetamine seized by counternarcotics officials worldwide came from Saudi Arabia. What’s even more noteworthy is that Saudi Arabia contains less than 1 percent of the world’s population. The amount of amphetamine seized in this less populated country is astronomical compared to the rest of the world.
Countries in the Middle East can be described as extremely conservative, where tradition and culture play a massive role in the rights of citizens. In many Middle Eastern countries, addiction is still viewed as a character flaw, rather than a disease. Rates of amphetamine abuse and addiction in these regions are tough to uncover because many citizens are afraid to get help or because government rule does not want to air their country’s dirty laundry. Furthermore, penalties for amphetamine possession and distribution are much tougher in the Middle East compared to penalties in the Western world. This causes fear in addicts and prevents them from getting help, which prevents accurate addiction rates. Some Middle Eastern countries view addiction as a crime. Others see it as a character flaw, and a few countries recognize addiction as the brain disease that it is. Therefore, addiction research in the Middle East may rely on dependent factors, like hospitalizations for amphetamine overdose, the amount of amphetamine sized by counternarcotics, amphetamine-related crimes, and the number of people who do seek professional treatment for substance abuse or addiction.
Evidence Showing High Amphetamine Use in the Middle East
In the Middle East, the majority of amphetamine used is sold in tablets referred to as Captagon. In 2012 the Drug Addiction, Prevention, and Control Department at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior seized about 70 million Captagon pills. Saudi officials estimate that this amount only represents about 10 percent of actual drugs entering the country. Addiction rehab centers in Saudi Arabia report that close to half of all patients are in treatment for amphetamine-related issues. When surveyed, many citizens in the Middle East declared that amphetamine was the second most abused drug following alcohol.
Citizens of the Middle East are abusing amphetamine. The drug is used to avoid sleep and fight off feelings of tiredness by students wanting to study, by recreational drug users socializing, and by people wanting to self-medicate symptoms. Like in the US, most Middle Easterners are susceptible to thinking that prescription pills are safer and pose fewer consequences than illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, or LSD. This can influence susceptibility to addiction with seemingly few resources for treatment help.
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