The problem of drug addiction in Egypt has increased alarmingly in recent years, making it one of the biggest issues that threaten the future of our society, because of its destructive impact and drugs are a major factor in many social, security, economic and health problems. This problem is no longer confined to one type of drug or a particular group in society, but rather includes many types and all classes and ages.
Like any problem, we need to understand it well and realize all its aspects and causes so that we can treat it properly.
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and results in an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug. A drug addict may continue to use drugs despite the harm they cause to themselves or others.
Drug addiction can begin with experimental use of a drug for fun on special occasions with acquaintances and friends, and then drug use becomes more frequent. For others, especially with opioids, drug addiction begins with exposure to prescription drugs or obtaining drugs from a friend or relative who has been prescribed the drug.
The risk of addiction and how quickly a person becomes addicted varies depending on the drug. Some drugs, such as opioid painkillers, cause higher risk of addiction than others.
Over time, the addict may need larger doses of the drug to reach the high state of mind he seeks. Soon he needs the drug just to feel good. As drug use increases, the addict finds it increasingly difficult to live without it, and attempts to stop using the drug may even lead to strong cravings and make them physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).
Drug addiction symptoms
Addiction in general changes the behavior of the addict and his usual way of thinking, and the most remarkable symptoms of drug addiction are:
- Feeling the need to take the drug on a regular basis, this may be on a daily basis or even several times a day.
- An urgent need for a drug that blocks unpleasant thoughts.
- The need to increase the dose of the drug to get the same effect over time.
- Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than planned.
- Making sure to keep an extra amount of the drug.
- Spending money on drugs even when you can’t afford it.
- Failure to fulfill obligations and work responsibilities or reduce participation in social or recreational activities due to drug use.
- Continuing to abuse the drug, despite the addict’s knowledge of the problems it causes to his life along with the physical and psychological damage that it afflicts.
- Doing things a person would not normally do, such as stealing, to get drugs.
- Driving or doing other dangerous activities while under the influence of drugs.
- Spending a long time getting or using the drug or recovering from its effects.
- Failed attempts to quit the drug.
- Feeling the withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the drug.
The most common types of drugs in Egypt
There are many forms and types of drugs in Egypt, so that it has become difficult to count them or even control their spread, but we can identify some types of drugs that occupy the first places in order. in terms of spread and demand in Egypt:
- Strox – a synthetic anesthetic that contains hyoscine, atropine and hyoscyamine, and all of these substances have a deadly effect on the nervous system, as it can destroy it completely through exposing it to continuous anesthesia.
- Voodoo – The voodoo plant resembles banjo leaves and is characterized by a light green color and it is abused by smoking it. It is originally a herb intended for sedating animals, and its smell is similar to “marijuana”, and it is very similar to Strox because both affect the nervous system.
- Tramadol – Tramadol belongs to the category of opioid analgesics and is used to get rid of moderate and severe pain, but the wrong use of Tramadol leads to addiction, which can kill a person in some cases.
- Hashish is a drug made from the cannabis plant (Cannabis Sativa), which is grown in tropical and temperate regions. Cannabis is the dried liquid of resin.
Drug addiction side effects
Drug addiction results in serious health, mental, psychological or social damages, the most remarkable of which are:
- Heart disorders, high blood pressure, which sometimes leads to an explosion in the arteries.
- Experiencing epileptic seizures if the body doesn’t have access to the drug suddenly.
- Inflammation of the brain that leads to hallucinations and sometimes memory loss.
- Drug addiction leads to physical and mental health problems, depending on the type of drug used.
- Cirrhosis of the liver and thus increase the proportion of toxins in the body.
- Gastrointestinal disorders and loss of appetite, which leads to being physically and feeling unbalanced.
- Loss of consciousness, coma and sudden death, especially when taking high doses or if drugs and alcohol are combined.
- Being at risk of contracting infectious diseases such as AIDS, whether through forbidden sexual relations or by sharing needles.
- Difficulty stopping drug addiction alone without professional help.
- The emergence of many negative behaviors on the drug addict, such as the constant feeling of anxiety, depression, and the tendency to commit suicide.
- Family problems and marital disputes due to behavioral changes that occur in the drug addict.
- Legal issues, as drug addiction leads to theft, driving under the influence of drugs, etc.
- Financial problems, drug addiction leads to spending more money than the addict could afford, putting him under the weight of debt and leading him to illegal and immoral behaviors.
The reasons that lead Egyptians to drug addiction
Throughout history, there have been numerous theories and research on the causes that led to the rapid increase of drug addiction in Egypt. Some believe that it is due to psychological reasons, and some believe that it appeared as a result of a group of social conditions, and others believe that there are medical and genetic factors that lead an individual to drug addiction.
Psychological causes of drug addiction
- Exposure to strong psychological trauma.
- Suffering from sexual or physical abuse.
- Negligence or chaos at home.
- Exposure to severe psychological pressure.
- Inability to communicate with others and inability to make friends.
- Having a mental illness such as depression.
- Poor performance at work or school.
- The pressures of work and life and the loss of skills to deal with them.
Social and family causes of drug addiction
- Participation in a sport in which abusing drugs is encouraged.
- Accompanying drug addicts.
- deteriorating financial conditions.
- Growing up in a home with drug users.
- Lack of parental control.
- Obscene wealth and extravagance without account.
- Weak religious scruples, and improper social upbringing.
- Family disintegration.
- Unemployment, poverty, ignorance and illiteracy.
Medical and genetic causes of drug addiction
- Ignorance of the dangers of using narcotics and the appropriate doses if used as a treatment.
- Epigenetics play an important role in drug abuse, as drug addiction genes involve multiple genetic sequences such as those located in nicotine receptors in the brain, and contribute significantly to drug addiction.
Drug addiction statistics in Egypt
In recent years, Egypt has witnessed a huge spread of drug abuse of all kinds, especially among young people, and addiction rates have reached unprecedented levels. It is no longer a surprise to find drug dealers in the streets selling narcotic substances to their customers openly, or to find groups of young people using drugs at ease.
The biggest surprise is the rise in the rate of drug abuse in Egypt to 10.4%, which is more than double the global rate of drug abuse, which is about 4% in a single country, which means that one-tenth of Egyptians use drugs!
The rate of female drug abuse increased to 28%, compared to 72% for men, according to the latest statistics to monitor the rate of drug abuse and addiction in Egypt, issued by the Anti-Addiction Fund of the Ministry of Social Solidarity.
Studies and statistics also confirmed that 79% of crimes committed are due to drug abuse, pointing out at the same time that the age of abuse has decreased to between 9 and 10 years.
In recent months, the demand for new types of drugs has increased in Egypt, led by “Strox” and “Voodoo”, as they have become the first in terms of rates of abuse, ahead of the famous brands that were more popular in recent years, such as “Tramadol”, heroin and hashish.
Drug addiction treatment in Egypt
Because of Egypt’s successive wars against addiction, a large number of private and governmental hospitals have been built in order to combat addiction and eliminate it once and for all.
Despite all these efforts made by the Egyptian government, the number of addicts is constantly increasing and the rates of recovery from addiction are low. This is due to the fact that government medical authorities cannot treat all of them, and this is due to the poor treatment capabilities in light of the low number of addiction treatment beds in Egypt, which does not exceed a thousand bed. This is in addition to the shortage of doctors specialized in treating addiction in these governmental hospitals.
Therefore, there are many people who have been afflicted with addiction in Egypt receiving treatment in specialized centers for the treatment of addiction, due to the efficiency of doctors and addiction treatment specialists and treatment programs in those private centers.
Also, many addiction treatment hospitals in Egypt depend on isolating the patient and dispensing sedatives as treatment without providing medical and psychological treatment, which contributes a lot to the increase in the severity of the disease and the doubling of the degree of addiction. The addict also develops another type of addiction, which is addiction to sedative drugs that are not subject to supervision.
Drug addiction treatment at Dar El-Taafy
Dar El-Taafy for addiction treatment and psychiatry receives and treats cases of addiction in Egypt, with many treatment programs to reach full recovery from addiction.
Addiction treatment at Dar El-Taafy goes through 4 basic stages:
1- Examination and evaluation stage
In which the patient’s condition is examined and evaluated at a high level using scientific methods, the medical, psychological and social needs of the patient are determined, as well as the severity of addiction and associated diseases.
This step also includes defining the program of care and treatment according to the patient’s needs, prescribing treatment according to the specified protocols, as well as monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions and protocols, and conducting full medical examinations to know the effects that the drug has caused the body.
2- detoxification stage
Also known as the phase of withdrawal symptoms, the patient is under around-the-clock medical supervision for a maximum of 7 to 10 days.
Doctors and experts in addiction treatment at Dar El-Taafy rely at this stage on a group of the latest pharmacological methods to cleanse the body of toxins, which helps the patient to cope with withdrawal symptoms in a specialized medical manner in order to avoid the symptoms that result from cessation of use, most notably vomiting, diarrhea, back pain and high blood pressure, in addition to cold, gonorrhea, insomnia and depression.
3- The stage of psychological rehabilitation
It is the next stage to expel toxins from the body, during which the patient is psychologically and behaviorally rehabilitated, which gives him a great deal of comfort and relaxation,Then the doctors of the recovery house for addiction treatment and psychiatry develop a treatment program that helps to bring about the required psychological rehabilitation in a period ranging from 2 to 6 months, depending on the patient’s condition.
4- Follow-up stage
The main objective of the follow-up phase is for the patient to continue to recover and prevent him from taking the drug again, in addition to providing a safe haven that he can go to at any time for help, according to a systematic program that helps to reintegrate into life again.