SIDON: Broken families, unemployment, poverty and immorality are among the motives behind drug use and addiction, according to a seminar on the hazards of drugs held at Evangelical Art School in Sidon over the weekend.
The seminar aimed at warning people against the dangers of drug use and the participants listened to testimonies of former drug addicts and to the opinion of experts.
Head of the drug combating department at the Internal Security Forces Colonel, Adel Mashmushi, explained the main reasons people resorted to drugs. He mentioned broken families, immoral behavior, increase in crime, the increase in unemployment, ignorance, poverty, crimes against moral values and the rise in accidents, especially road accidents.
Mashmushi went on to stress the dangers of drug use such as the death of brain cells, a weakened immunity system, the spreading of diseases due to the use of infected needles and an increase in sexually transmittable diseases.
He also warned about a rise in mortality rates between drug users, especially because of over dosage.
Twenty-three-year-old Sally, an Egyptian national born and raised in Lebanon, was the victim of poverty and she was led at the early age of 12 into a life of drug abuse.
She shared her experience during the seminar and told the participants how her family was evicted from their house because her father became physically disabled and could not work to pay the rent.
They started living out of their car and her mother resorted to begging in order to provide for the family.. However, Sally thought she had found another way out of her bleak situation when a friend gave her a pill that he said would “clear her mind.”
From that pill she moved on to hashish, cocaine and heroin and at 16 she was misled by a young man who forced her to work in order to supply him with money for his own addiction. Sally tried to commit suicide as a result.
Nonetheless, the young woman’s luck changed when she was introduced to the Health Care Association which saved her and “picked her like a needle from a hay stack,” as she said.
“I am now a member of its awareness committee,” she proudly added.
Sally was lucky to have found support in her time of need and lucky also because she did not get arrested as is often the case of many drug users in south Lebanon.
Mashmushi explained that it is illegal under Lebanese law to plant, produce, traffic or use drugs, even if it is intended for personal use.
He also revealed that the number of people arrested in the south on drug-related charges in 2009 was more than 80 people in Sidon and 400 in total in south Lebanon in the same year.