Fighting drug addiction: Roles for the family and government [Archives:2007/1016/Reportage]

January 15 2007

Taiz Bureau
Taking drugs spoils the brain and spirit and there are a lot of programs to eliminate drug use. Chief of Taiz's Security Department and Drugs and Alcohols Combating Administration told Yemen Times about drugs and the hidden battles behind such the problem. Yemen Times spoke to Yahya Al-Haisami, the chief of Taiz security department.

From your work, what are the symptoms apparent in a drug addict?

A drug addict does not have healthy thinking and he is aggressive when he does not get his needs and also after he gets it. In both cases, his reactions cannot be anticipated. Drug use is on swift increase among youth unless we exert efforts to protect them right from home, school, mosque and ending with mass media.

Is it the ease of getting drugs shapes an assisting factor for drug addicts?

This is an important point and we need laws to regulate the use of medicine that can be abused and criminalize its possession except for sick people. Being easily reachable, youth fall victims to these drugs. There exist four types of medicine that can be turned into narcotics with a strip of 30 tablets against YR 50. When we arrest people involved in resisting police and random firing, we find they are possessing drugs.

For his part, Lt. Col. Abdu Salim Al-Janadi, head of Drugs Fighting Administration, said their resources are poor.

Tell us something about the formation of Drugs Fighting Administration and the different stages it has passed?

The Ministry of Interior officials realized the importance of enacting a drug fighting process and thus Drugs Fighting Administration was established in 2004. The administration has full independence for planning and implementation and exerting official and public efforts to minimize the extent of this new phenomenon alien to our Muslim society. Later, the administration branched to other governments.

Does this mean the administration did not exist earlier to the aforementioned date?

No. Fighting drugs before 2004 was undertaken by Criminal Investigation via a Drugs and Intoxicants Fighting Department.

What role has Drugs Fighting Administration, Taiz branch, played, especially when it is a densely populated governorate?

The Drugs Fighting Administration Taiz branch has played a noticeable role to combat the problem as evidence by the number of issues and the confiscated quantities. In January 2006, the administration grabbed the biggest quantity of drugs ever which mounts to about 106 bottles of anesthetics, the same substance used in surgery. Each bottle holds 500 ml. The total quantity was 116 bottles, but 10 bottles had been consumed before the quantity was confiscated. It was stored in a pharmacy since 15 years ago. In addition, considerable quantity of drugs and hashish was also seized. The whole quantity was confiscated and the case was referred to the prosecution.

How did your administration manage to seize this quantity of anesthetics?

What makes us arrest those people is our knowledge that this substance is not used any longer in surgical operations as it was replaced by another substance. Thus, anesthetics have been abused for other ends, particularly with strict measures imposed by the Ministry of Health upon the use of this substance. We were informed that a group of youth is promoting a quantity of anesthetics to hospitals and pharmacies, an act prohibited now. After some investigation we managed to grab the involved people.

Would you please tell the readers something about medicine whose possession, selling and taking should be made only with a legal justification?

Yes, there are certain types of narcotic medicine prescribed for psychological and neurological patients.

What effects narcotic medicine has upon people who need not it?

Taking medicine would effect non-patients as they make sudden change and create imbalanced reaction in their behaviors. Narcotics addiction can lead people, especially youth, to commit criminal acts.

As learned, these narcotic tablets were sold in pharmacies with no restrictions; what is new in this respect?

This is true. We arrested some non-patient addicts who created problems for others and sent them to the prosecution. However, the prosecution set those addicts free as the medicine is not ranked among prohibited items. The increase of crimes committed under the effect of such narcotics, prompted Interior Minister Gen. Rashad Al-Alimi, to include them among drugs and prohibited substances.

What are the parties that help you perform your task?

Frankly, all cooperate with us, including citizens, who inform us about many drugs and narcotic crimes. Drugs crimes are different from other criminal crimes and they are ranked internationally as organized crimes which require top secrecy. When we receive information, we make investigations to make sure as some inform out of malice or personal ends. We don't arrest anyone only when red-handed. A youth starts taking these narcotics out of venting his feelings and then gets addicted.

Along with public effort there are official efforts as for Taiz Health Bureau which directed the pharmacies to sell medicines just with a medical prescription signed and sealed by doctors. Further, the paper will be taken from the patient in order not to be used once again. There is also the role of prosecutions.

What are steps taken after arresting people involved in promoting, selling or taking narcotics?

With people involved in selling and exporting, importing and taking narcotics and drugs, we grab the quantities in their possession and then investigate and later we refer them to the concerned prosecutions to be referred to courts.

Are there health risks for addicts?

Yes, there are risks for the addicts' health as narcotics affect them physically, spiritually and mentally. Further, they will be subject to weakness and a lack of desire to work which leads to future social problems and family disintegration, ingratitude and an escape from reality.

Do you give special attention to awareness on drugs and narcotic risks through your attempt to rid of them?

Yes, we telecast messages about risks of drugs and narcotics through official mass media. Further, we make awareness programs through education and schools administrations together with the role played by endowments through preachers.

Are there any difficulties you face in your try to get desired goals?

In comparison to the weighty tasks laid upon our shoulders in tensely populated governorates like Taiz, the resources are poor. Drugs are planted, prepared, smuggled, stored and distributed and it is an organized crime whose masters move at night seizing the opportunity to spread their toxics and crimes across the globe. Our country, as other parts of the world, is targeted by this hazardous evil. It has afflicted a small portion of our youth; however, the majority of youth are characterized by the spirit of handwork and religion.