Muscat: A national strategy to deal with drug addiction in the Sultanate has been submitted for approval – and it’s all about helping addicts.
The plan will target five areas: prevention, combatting, policies, treatment and research.
There is now a consensus within the government to help individuals whose lives are blighted by narcotics, according to the coordinator of a national committee for drug addiction.
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And three dedicated rehabilitation centres will be set up in Oman to help addicts recover from the scourge of drug addiction, the committee has revealed.
Aside from new and harsher legislation to keep traffickers at bay, ministries are now becoming involved in the battle to save addicts by treating them as victims, not criminals.
The National Committee for Narcotics & Psychotropic Substances (NCNPS) has recorded 6,000 cases of addicts seeking treatment in Oman since 2006. Dr Mahmood Al Abri, Coordinator of the committee, believes that the country is becoming more aware of the global problem and is being active when it comes to solutions.
“The National Strategy Plan to fight drugs has been drafted and sent for approval already. The only thing that would delay its approval is the current economy but we are working in sections to overcome this problem,” Dr Al Abri said.
“We have plans to renovate Ibn Sina hospital for strictly rehabilitation purposes. Another treatment centre is going to be in Sohar, which is sponsored by Jesour and a new centre in Rustaq is expected to open this year, which belongs to NGOs and is privately run,” he added.
Around nine different ministries are in cooperation with the committee, focusing on their specialties to not only change the drug scene but to also raise awareness.
“It’s a cooperative. We have the Ministry of Justice involved, Education, Social Development, the Youth Committee, the ROP and the Ministry of Finance working with us. The newest additions are the Public Authority for Radio and Television and the Ministry of Information for campaigning,” he said.
According to Dr Al Abri, there are four strategies that are the backbone of the National Plan. Prevention, combatting, treatment, rehabilitation and research.
“Prevention is far cheaper and much more effective than treatment. It is important to understand and be aware of this problem. Treatment is difficult and hard, but focusing on family care and schools is much better,” he stated.
Dr. Al-Abri said among the hard drugs, opiates are the most commonly used drug in the country. Psychotropics such as sedative drugs are the second most popular, followed by cannabis hashish.
“This is a global issue and not just in Oman. The nature of the drug itself is like cancer. Once an individual is dependent on it, it’s difficult to financially support the habit and then they become dealers themselves,
“These patients are actually victims of the drug. Many people don’t understand the concept. We have to help them. The approach and attitude of the government is much better than before and awareness has also been increased,” he stated.
Dr. Al-Abri called on the private sector to be more involved in this difficult issue.