Specialist claims there are 22,000 drug addicts in a Saudi province

A drug addiction specialist, Dr. Khalid Al-Barrack said most of the addicts in Saudi Arabia are prison inmates and some have criminal records. (File photo: Reuters)

There are 22,000 drug addicts in the Eastern Province, according to a drug addiction specialist at the local Al-Amal Mental Health Complex.

Dr. Khalid Al-Barrack told Al-Hayat that most of the addicts are prison inmates and some have criminal records.

“There’s a direct link between this high number of addicts and crimes.

“Psychological and physical problems can play a role in making someone turn to drugs.

“In fact, 70 percent of the prison inmates here are involved in drug cases while 80 percent of them have prior records.

“These figures are alarming and need the cooperation of the entire society with authorities to fight this menace.”

Al-Barrack said drug addictions threaten the security and stability of society.

He also pointed out that a large number of addicts relapse after treatment around the world.

“We’re targeted in the Kingdom and we need to keep a close eye on our sons and daughters and never feel ashamed of taking them to the proper institution for treatment,” he said.

“After all, treatment is better than death.”

Speaking on the sidelines of a symposium held recently by the Directorate of Anti-Drugs that aimed to educate the public on the dangers of drugs, he warned that smoking is usually the first thing an addict does before taking drugs.

There are 5 million smokers in the country.

“The friends one hangs out with can have a great bearing on whether someone takes drugs. “There are three types of drugs: stimulant, inhibitory, and hallucinogenic.

“Ninety percent of addicts used drugs for the first time when they were in middle or high school.

“They are heavily targeted by drug dealers.”

During the symposium, Dr. Al-Barrack talked about the definition of drug addiction, its causes, its physical and psychological effects and how it harms the economy, health, society, family and security.

Meanwhile, the National Center of Drug Addiction Consultations here has received over 620 calls since its toll free number (1955) was launched. Most of the callers were worried about drug addict family members. The center works 14 hours a day and later the hours will be extended to cover the entire day and night.

There are 15 consultants and specialists working for the center.

Most callers are mothers, wives and sisters of drug addicts aged 20-30.

The article was first published in the Saudi Gazette

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47