April 28, 2017

Inside the UAE’s Escalating Addiction Crisis

UAE escalating addiction crisis

Addiction Crisis in UAE

Substance abuse has fast become a growing concern to those whose live in and around the Gulf States in the Arab Region. The mounting burden on the economy of Abi Dhabi can visibly be seen, with the increased spending on both prevention and treatment hoping to ease the burden, as well as repay the investments that this dilemma has created. The use and subsequent abuse of drugs is a rather complex issue regarding the Arab states, and revolves around many complex social and economic factors. Dubai has seen the increase of younger drug users and addicts in the recent past, and according to Dr. Hamad Al Ghaferi, General Director of the National Rehabilitation Center, peer pressure, problems at home, family complications, and travelling abroad, are all contributing factors to the escalation of the growing addiction crisis.

The rising number of deaths related to drug and alcohol use and abuse is something of concern to both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minster of the Interior, citing an increase in the annual death rate, and how it effects society on the whole. Over the last four years, a growing storm of media attention has been brewing regarding the escalating drug problem in the Arab region. The main focus for the cause of drug related issues seems to be one that has become the victim of the blame game. Focusing blame on eternal causes, such as: the imported drug problem, guarding against the entry of western drugs, and international drug mafia’s; have all taken focus off the real crux of the drug issue, shifting blame and averting the necessary attention.

Looking at Some of the Issues

It is no secret that the UAE comes standard with vast amounts of oil wealth, and alongside the influx of migrant workers, it seems that the ease of access and availability of narcotics across the region go hand-on-hand. A large youth segment of a growing population, as well as the cosmopolitan cultural diversity are factors that are more often than not, under-played to be less-likely candidates for this rising epidemic. There are a number of social factors that play a massive role in the participation of drug use, especially for those expatriates who feel vulnerable and unfamiliar. It is likely that the high rate of unemployment, as well as a lack of sense of belonging and identity due to the many subcultures created from the enormous diversity of the regions workers, may be leading factors in the escalation of drug abuse.

Growing Needs That Need to be Met

The National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) has, in 2016, upgraded their in-patient facilities, and can now accommodate a total of 169 patients. The $77.7m extension has increased the centers ability to better accommodate outpatient services, group, family, and individual counselling, as well as various other support activities. Since 2002, the NRC has been the country’s first comprehensive drug rehabilitation center, and has become widely viewed as a model for substance abuse across the UAE. Although the center is doing wonderful work, there is an increasing demand for quality rehabilitation and substance abuse clinics, 75 percent of patients who seek treatment doing so voluntarily or through a family reference.

There is no doubt that the rising substance abuse issues prevalent in the UAE are issues that need to be addressed and dealt with. Whatever the reasons for the increase in substance abuse, the need for quality care and with the proper treatment is vital to the recovery and long-term remedy of these issues. The Gulf has a limited number of government-funded drug-related programs, many of which may see themselves bursting at the current rate of substance abuse. Why not have a read through, “The Benefits of Treatment in South Africa for Emiratis and Expatriates” on our blig.