Fighting drug abuse with care | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Fighting drug abuse with care

By Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood

Bahrain just joined the world last week to mark the UN-mandated International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

This year, the campaign focus was not, as would have been expected, on drug dealers and traffickers who are rightly slotted as criminals but to build awareness about the importance of treating people who use drugs with compassion and respect.

The shift is to offer community support to drug addicts by offering alternatives to punishment, prioritising prevention and in the worst scenario, to create a secure rehabilitation environment where the drug user can be weaned off the substance abuse and given a safe haven for any future support.

Still, let us not be blind to the potholes that pit our fight against drug abuse.

There is a thin line dividing empathy for drug abusers and blurred softness which does not grip the issue.

Many countries tried to fight drug abuse in different ways – in some countries, drug users were given clean needles to ‘shoot up’ so as to avoid the explosion of AIDS and other diseases caused by sharing drug equipment.

Other countries publicised the horrors of the ‘cold turkey’ method where drugs were simply stopped for the addict and s/he was left to suffer the terrible withdrawal symptoms which scarred them and hopefully, stopped future use.

In Bahrain, we have the support of a tight-knit community and a system that is based equally on sympathy and on a scientific understanding of drug abuse triggers and rehabilitation.

There are about eight listed rehabilitation centres for drugs abuse patients and other centres run to help with alcohol, addiction to opioids (very strong painkillers that can quickly become addictive) and even tobacco.

Of course, we have the support of our network of religious advisers – we must tap the scholars and imams who effectively preach in the mosques and whose word is respected by the community.

They must be pressed as our allies in the fight against drug abuse and to win back our people who have strayed from the path of righteousness and Islamic values.

I understand that there will soon be a first-of-its-kind national project aimed at monitoring and increasing recovery rates from drug addiction using artificial intelligence.

To all those working tirelessly for this cause, I offer salutations.


Captain Mahmood Al Mahmood is the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Tribune and the President of the Arab-African Unity Organisation for Relief, Human Rights and Counterterrorism