Published Date: April 22, 2010
By Nawara Fattahova, Staff Writer
KUWAIT: A group of Kuwaiti experts have called on authorities to apply proper and practical preventive measures against drug addiction. They said that the ways to medically treat drug addicts should develop according to the changes in both society and drugs being used. "The most important stage is prevention," stressed Dr Khalid Al-Saleh, a psychiatrist, during a symposium held at the Kuwait Journalist Association (KJA) on Tuesday. The symposium was titled 'The Medical, Psychological, Security, and Legal A
ffect of Drug Addicts and Society.' "The most important factor is the tolerance to the drug. An addict starts with one pill, three, five, and then more to get the same effect. The other factor is the withdrawal symptom. When the addict changes his lifestyle to ensure he can get more drugs," he added.
Dr Homoud Al-Qashan a sociology teacher at the College of Social Sciences in Kuwait University and the Assistant Dean for Students Affairs said there are several reasons why young Kuwaitis become addicted to drugs. "Of those addicted, 92 percent of them were influenced by their friends. Of those, 100 percent of them consumed their first dose free of charge as a new experience. The most dangerous age is 16 years, and finally, every drug addict was a smoker when they started," he said.
According to Al-Qashan there is a new addiction; the electronic addiction. "This happens when a whole family is sitting at home but all on the internet, their Blackberries, or other electronic forms of communication. Whenever a youngster is socially isolated there is a better chance for drug addiction," he added.
In 1999 the law on how to treat an addict changed. The addict is now considered a patient instead of a criminal," Al-Qashan explained. He noted that this was a positive step and that after the legal change 300 families called the Ministry of Interior and several addicts were referred to the Psychiatric Hospital.
While Al-Qashan noted that the change in law a move in the right direction, it also caused a crisis because there are only 57 beds in the hospital. "So they sent the rest back home on the condition to comeback when they were called. That same year we noticed an increase in the amount of domestic violence caused by these addicts..
The government invested KD 4 million to build a special hospital for drug addicts. "We have the building but we don't have the humans to work in it," he said. "There is a demand to develop this new specialization. If KD 10 were spent today on prevention, it would save KD 12 on treatment. I call upon all related authorities to raise awareness of this issue so that the whole of society can benefit," he urged.
Dr Mohammed Buzubar, a teacher of Criminal Law and the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Defense thinks that the legislation on this issue has developed. "Kuwaiti society was simple in the past," he said. "After the oil boom the world of drug addiction entered Kuwait. It isn't limited to consuming and possessing drugs anymore. Now great amounts of money are made from this illegal business.
In 1960 there were only two articles in criminal law regarding alcohol and drugs and they were limited to selling and consuming only, he explained. In 1980 the law developed 54 articles which also included laws against importing, exporting, trading, planting, and several other issues he added. Another law was issued in 1987 about mind altering substances and in 1995 a series of strict punishments were issued, including the death sentence for drug dealers, he noted.
Al-Saleh mentioned several different reasons for addiction. "It may be genetic. When a member of the family is addicted it may be easier to become addicted. Here, parents should speak clearly to their kids and make them aware of the fact that they are more likely to become addicts.
Also there is the physical cause," he added. "When someone is suffering from a certain painful disease he could then become addicted to his medication because his body needs it. There is also the social cause, or, when a person uses drugs to escape and forget their reality. And finally, there is the psychological cause, when a person uses drugs as a temporary solution to their problems of shyness, depression or others," Al-Saleh concluded.