MUSCAT: Oman is making concerted efforts to curb the use of drugs and drug-related crimes in the country, according to a top official at the Ministry of Social Development.
Dr Jalal Youssef Al Mukhaini, Director of the Family Counselling and Counselling Department at the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD), highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach from families, schools, and civil society institutions to identify early use of drugs to curb the menace.
Speaking to Shabiba Radio recently, Al Mukhaini revealed that the number of drug-related crimes in the Sultanate of Oman is around 1,700 in 2020. Surprisingly, among the drugs cases registered, 37 are women.
Al Mukhaini said: “The statistics display a number that is a matter of concern. The spread of drug use is being felt in the society. These numbers are of registered crimes but what worries me is that there is a possibility of much more use of drugs that have escaped detection from the monitoring security authorities. We are facing a situation that is of alarming level.”
Al Mukhaini added: “The real danger lies with the use of drugs among young age-groups. There have been cases that have been brought to my notice where teenagers in the age group of 12-13 have been found addicted. Another reason for alarm is the high number of drug use among women and the statistics have revealed that there were 37 women involved in drug-related crimes.”
“The Omani society has to take the responsibility, whether they are educators or social institutions and other civil society institutions.
“We have failed to a large extent to identify the early symptoms of drug addiction among our children, adults and youth. It is high time that the educational institutions, teachers, employees in civil society institutions, specialists in the security, military and health authorities, and society pay keen attention in this regard to help curb the dangerous trend and stop the spread of drug use,” said Al Mukhaini.
The top ministry official added: “We are facing a situation where there is a genuine risk to the society of drug use. We need strong measures on the ground to nip the scourge in the bud.”
“Due to the Sultanate of Oman’s geography where smugglers try to exploit the marine borders, we need the attention of the media to raise awareness in the society about the dangers of drugs and its use.”
Al Mukhaini is widely regarded as one of the key pillars in the country working to curb the drug menace by raising awareness at all levels. The Ministry of Social Development is keen on active and influential participation to propagate methods of prevention, awareness and protection of young people and youth from this menace under the leadership of Her Excellency Dr Laila Ahmed Al Najjar, Minister of Social Development.
The Department of Family Guidance and Counselling at the social development ministry provides a lot of awareness programmes that are aimed at youth, children (boys and girls) to know how to confront the drug scourge.
Al Mukhaini said: “Among the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Social Development are prevention and treatment programmes after the rehabilitation stage. There is a national programme supervised by the ministry known as ‘Takeef’; It is a programme meant to rehabilitate drug addicts by helping them engage, integrate and interact with the society and help them make a smooth return into a normal healthy life. This programme also engages with the families of the recovering drug addicts by providing psychological and social support services.”
Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Hakim bin Saleh Al Siyabi, Director of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Control Department, in South Al Batinah Governorate Police Command, said: “The scourge of narcotics and psychotropic substances has spread across the world. Use of narcotics do a lot of harm to the individual and society on the health, economic and social aspects. Drug use has affected one of the main segments of society – youth. Any country relies a lot on their youth for development and this is why many countries have taken strict measures to combat the scourge of drugs.”
Al Siyabi said: “Our policies are based on two important things. First is criminalisation and punishment, and second is prevention and treatment. The aim is to confront and combat the scourge of drugs, as it can lead an individual to a path of destruction, either imprisonment, disease or even death.”
In a recent address to the Council of Ministers, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik appreciated the efforts made by the concerned authorities to combat and reduce narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, stressing that the National Strategy for Combating Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in the Sultanate of Oman for 2023-2028, has been approved. He gave directives to authorities to take necessary deterrence action to limit the negative (health, social, economic and security) impacts of the phenomenon.