Drug Use Spreads Among Iraqi Youth

Abu Sami, whose eldest son is addicted to drugs, told Al-Monitor, “My fear is no longer about an explosive or a car bomb, but about the terrorism of addiction.”

In June, the police in Diwaniya,193 kilometers [119 miles] south of Baghdad, said that they had arrested a drug dealer with 80,000 pills on him. Drugs are spreading like wildfire in places that use child labor, such as car repair shops, and road junctions where cheap goods are sold.

Asaad Yassin, 14, is a drug addict. “My father’s wife hates me, and she forced me to beg in the streets. My drug addiction will end as soon as I return to school, which I left two years ago,” he told Al-Monitor.

At the end of 2012, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior issued a statement about the drug phenomenon, especially hallucinogenic drugs, which it says can “cause a person to commit crimes.”

Qassim al-Saadi, a social scientist at Babel University, told Al-Monitor, “Street begging and drug addiction complement each other. To buy their daily drug fix, some boys beg by pretending to sell goods.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor, police officer Ahmed Fadel admitted, “Investigating [those boys] is not part of [the police’s] daily duties. Some boys end the day by sleeping under a bridge or on the sidewalk, after becoming exhausted from drug use.”

Pharmacist Sitar al-Khafaji told Al-Monitor that drug dealers are everywhere and that obtaining drugs is very easy these days. “The spread of [illegal] drugs has resulted in a lower demand for [legal] anesthetic medication,” he said.

Illustrating the threat drugs pose to Iraqi youth, Omran Hassan, 16, told Al-Monitor that a few dollars’ worth of white powder was enough for him to spend a happy day with his friends.

At the end of 2012, a parliamentary committee said, “The security, the judicial and the health services are embarrassed about the spread of drugs.”

Adnan Abu Zeed is an Iraqi author and journalist.

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