Five million drug addicts in Bangladesh

DHAKA– While Bangladesh has been facing a worst form of drug menace, a senior official of the government disclosed that the number of drug addicts in the country would be around five million at this moment.
Khandaker Mohammed Ali, Director General (DG) of Narcotics Control Directorate of the government revealed the alarming figure of drug addicts in his article published today (Tuesday) in different newspapers on the occasion of observing ‘International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’ on June 26.
“It is difficult to say the accurate number of drug addicts in the country, but on the basis of different data and statistics, we can guess that the number of drug addicts in Bangladesh would be around five million”, the DG said.
He mentioned 80 percent of the addicts are young, they are aged between 18 and 30 years. “Though alarming, it is true that the drug addiction among the women is also increasing day by day,” he added.
Bangladesh, a least developed country (LDC) having a population of over 150 million, has been facing the problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking since 1980 when smuggled heroin inside the country was detected by government agencies. Deadly drug heroin was smuggled into Bangladesh from infamous ‘Golden Triangle’ area located at the north of Thailand and also close to Myanmar and Laos. That area is under the control of drug lords where most of the heroin in the world are produced.
Initially, in early 1980s. the drug syndicate used Bangladesh as a transit point to smuggle heroin to Europe and western countries. According to DG Khandaker Mohammed Ali, the drug syndicate had chosen Bangladesh for its geographical location. The syndicate used Bangladesh as part of their trafficking route with the collaboration of local agents, and at one stage they made Bangladesh a market of heroin.
The government also geared up their drive against drug trafficking, and during the last three decades, hundreds of kilogrammes of heroin were seized while a number of traffickers including foreign nationals were arrested. Stringent laws against drug trafficking, including death sentence, were enacted. But it could not stop the drug menace, and the number of drug addicts continues to increase.
So long, the government or authorities concerned admitted increase in the number of drug addicts, but they did never quote any figure. This is the first time an authoritative source like DG of Narcotics Control Directorate disclosed the alarming figure of five million addicts.
Besides heroin, other drugs such as phensidyle syrup and yaba tablets are widely used by the addicts since these are cheaper than heroin. Phensidyle and yaba are also not produced in Bangladesh, these are smuggled into the country from neighbouring India and Myanmar.
The growing menace of drug addiction is also affecting Bangladesh’s law and order since many of the addicts involve themselves with crime and unlawful activities. Bangladesh Home Minister Sahara Khatun today (Tuesday) said one third crimes committed in the country is directly or indirectly related with drug addiction.
“One third crimes in the country is somehow linked with drug addiction so it is an important national issue tackling of which warrants appropriate law”, the minister said while speaking at a function in Dhaka on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The minister said, “Every year a huge amount of money is funneled out by drug smugglers which is injuring country’s economy.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed their grave concern about the drug abuse situation in the country.  In separate messages both the leaders called for launching a united social movement for an end to the drug menace.

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