Alcohol and substance use disorders are not just limited to the Western world. However, due to religious and social factors, the conversation around the use of illicit drugs and substance abuse in Arabic countries is very much restricted. This can be highly problematic for those seeking more information about substance abuse, and it can often exacerbate drug use.
Despite it being a ‘taboo’ topic in Middle Eastern Arab countries, it is important to remember that many people worldwide seek help for drug abuse. Support is always available to aid those living with addiction in working towards a sober and healthy lifestyle.
In this blog post, we explore what cocaine is, its prevalence in Middle Eastern countries and cultures, and the effective treatment services provided by our team at Addcounsel.
Cocaine – What Is It?
Cocaine is often portrayed as an expensive drug taken by the rich and famous. Likewise, drug use is glamorised and normalised, with addiction and the long-term side effects often being missed out from the narrative. However, drug use and addiction are not glamorous as they can often lead to potentially life-threatening effects on the body and brain.
Fortunately, these adverse effects can be prevented with the right care and support, and any future health challenges can be easily managed.
Cocaine often comes in two forms: powdered or crack cocaine. The drug works by creating changes in the central nervous system, which induces feelings of energy and euphoria. The effects of the drug are short-lasting, so many people who use it take large amounts in a short period to sustain the intended high.
Like many other drugs, cocaine affects the brain by creating high dopamine levels, a chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The effects felt after taking cocaine include:
Understanding Cocaine Addiction
Although cocaine is one of the most commonly encountered drugs worldwide, it can be hard to recognise an addiction to the street drug. However, a key sign of addiction is experiencing cocaine cravings and continuing to misuse the drug despite any negative consequences.
Those who regularly abuse drugs are at risk of developing psychological dependence. This means that they do not feel ‘normal’ without the drug, so they continue to partake in drug abuse to reach an intended high.
After a dependence has been established, tolerance to the drug slowly increases. If drug use is ceased at this stage, withdrawal symptoms are very likely to occur.
When a person abuses cocaine or engages in prescription drug abuse, their brain adapts to having large amounts of dopamine present. Therefore, without the drug, withdrawal symptoms are likely to be felt. Though different for everyone, these can include:
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Body aches
- Tremors and shakiness
Withdrawing from cocaine can be unpleasant, but it is rarely complicated. At Addcounsel, we provide a safe and comfortable environment for those in need of treatment to withdraw from cocaine, ensuring their every needs are met for an effective recovery period.
Drug Use and Substance Abuse in Arabic and Islamic Countries
Countries in the Middle East and North Africa have been associated with drug trafficking, which can be noted in political instability, fragile states, and several conflict areas.
A world drug report found that 64% of global amphetamine seizures occur in the Middle East. However, it is not just drug trafficking that links Middle Eastern countries to drug use.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual defines substance use disorders as “the use of one or more substances leading to a clinically significant impairment or distress.” Substance-related disorders can affect people from all walks of life and have done for many years. However, certain countries and cultures deal with drug use issues differently, and therefore substance abuse research in the Middle East is relatively limited.
Culture plays a significant role in how societies respond to illicit drug use and substance abuse. Due to this, many problems relating to addiction in Arabic and Middle Eastern countries have been ignored.
Despite it being a ‘taboo’ topic, there are approximately 500,000 drug users situated in North Africa, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Since 2012, the consumption of cocaine has been on the rise in North Africa, specifically in Algeria and Morocco.
There has also been a recent increase in drug use reported around the Persian Gulf due to the presence of oil and the abundance of money the economy has acquired. Combined with the mixing of Western, Arab, and Asian communities, the number of those with a substance abuse disorder has increased. In fact, it was reported that 40% of young adults who live in Saudi Arabia had drug abuse disorders.
Stigma Associated With Drug Use in Arabic Countries
In many communities in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, matters revolving around substance abuse are often overlooked and ignored because of the stigmatisation surrounding alcohol consumption and drug abuse.
Due to this stigmatisation, substance use disorder research does not account for women. Unfortunately, this creates a disparity in how substance abuse treatment services treat men and women. Unfortunately, many harm reduction services do not take into account gender differences in treatment. In turn, women find themselves reluctant to seek treatment services, exemplifying the need for individualised treatment plans and gender-specific services in countries situated in the Middle East and North Africa.
Furthermore, in many Middle East countries, the criminal justice system uses corporal and capital punishment for drug offences. Sharia Law is followed, meaning an individual can spend four to ten years in jail for drug addiction. Additionally, a drug trafficking sentence in the Middle East can see punishments, including a life sentence to death, implemented.
It has been suggested that these drug policies focus too much on drug trafficking, meaning an abundance of care is given to prevent the travel of drugs rather than helping those with a substance abuse disorder. This contributes to the stigma associated with substance abuse and deters many people from speaking to either family, friends, or related services about issues relating to drugs.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment in the Middle East
Many places in the world, specifically Arabic countries, have a number of severe public health challenges, especially those concerning mental health issues and substance-related disorders. Causes for this may include political instabilities, social pressures, and stigmatisation due to religion, culture, and the criminal justice system.
The lack of published documents surrounding substance use disorders research and mental health research results in the absence of mental health services and rehabilitation centres in Arab countries. However, advancements have been made as, since 2009, clients living with substance addictions in Egypt are now classified as mental health clients, which enables voluntary access to drug dependence treatment services. Additionally, recent research interest highlights the establishment of rehabilitation centres in Gaza and Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately, there are still not enough harm reduction or treatment services available to meet the demand.
Treatment Services at Addcounsel
At Addcounsel, we offer a private luxury rehab service equipped with a network of highly trained addiction specialists to support those in need in their journey to becoming substance-free.
We understand that substance abuse disorders present themselves differently in all clients, and so we provide a team of highly qualified experts who deliver an individualised, tailored plan to help each person work towards sobriety.
We appreciate the difference in religion and culture when treating clients from countries in the Middle East. We offer Arabic-speaking services from a team of experts who administer treatment without judgement and with discretion.
We are here to help. If you believe you or a loved one has a substance abuse disorder, please contact us today.