The negative effects of illegal drugs in Iraq are becoming more apparent. Iraq is being transformed from a country that exports drugs to the Arabian Gulf into a consumer of them. A decade ago, it was rare to see a group of young people sitting on the river bank or in a cafe smoking marijuana or using heroin. No more.
A young man who asked not to be identified told Al-Monitor why he chose to take drugs. “We live in a miserable world with high unemployment, a lot of daily worries, security disturbances and family problems.
So it's OK if the youth try to take their minds off all that with drugs.” What’s even more surprising is that this young man is a university graduate. He smokes five joints a day — when he has the money to buy them — otherwise, he gets them from his friends.
The justifications that young people cite for using a variety of mind-altering substances range from the personal, such as the disintegration of their family, to the social, such as high unemployment and frequent bombings.
From late evening until morning throughout Iraqi cities, growing numbers of youth are high on drugs, a high that they try to maintain by smoking hookahs, cigarettes and other kinds of nicotine-saturated paper.
Ahmad al-Jubouri, a middle school teacher from Babel (100 kilometers [62 miles] south of Baghdad) is unable to help his heroin-addicted brother, because the city has no drug rehabilitation center.
Speaking to Al-Monitor, Jubouri admits to having severely beaten his brother once to make him overcome his drug habit. In this conservative society, Jubouri was more concerned about his family’s reputation than about his brother’s health.