Heroin Addiction in Arabic Countries

Heroin is one of the most commonly abused drugs in Middle Eastern Arab countries. Reports suggesting that heroin is a preferred drug of choice amongst some young users combined with increases in opiate seizures by authorities indicate that heroin use and addiction are growing in Arab countries.

Although heroin addiction is dangerous and can take over a person’s life, drug addiction can be treated and prevented. Several Gulf nations are investing in drug treatment, rehabilitation, and community prevention services to counter rising drug abuse rates.

Find out more about heroin and drug abuse in Arab countries here, or contact us today to learn about substance abuse treatment.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opiate drug that comes from the seeds of the opium poppy. Heroin slows down activity in the brain and central nervous system, making many people feel calm and relaxed. Like other drugs, heroin can also produce a euphoric high in the user and work as a powerful painkiller.

The most common way to administer heroin is via intravenous ingestion – injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream. Though often overlooked, injecting drugs comes with additional risks of spreading blood-transmitted diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

What Is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction arises when a person compulsively seeks and uses heroin, despite its negative consequences. Addiction develops due to the way drugs affect the reward pathway in the brain, producing urges to use the substance that can be extremely difficult to resist. These changes can be long-lasting or even permanent, although effective treatment can go some way to reversing them.

As an extremely addictive drug, heroin use can easily lead to addiction, otherwise known as drug dependence. Unfortunately, addiction comes with serious long-term mental and physical health consequences and a high risk of potentially fatal overdose.

Heroin addiction is a severe form of a substance use disorder, as classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Signs and symptoms of heroin addiction include:

  • Preoccupation with seeking and using heroin
  • Continuing to take heroin despite adverse effects
  • Lying to friends and family about heroin use
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using heroin

What Are the Dangers of Heroin Addiction?

Heroin is a powerful and dangerous substance. It’s possible to experience a fatal overdose the first time heroin is used. Repeated use and addiction comes with many other long-term dangers, including:

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infections in the heart linings and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Stomach cramping
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety disorder
  • Sexual disfunction
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Heroin addiction can dominate a person’s life – taking heroin can become the priority of their thoughts and everyday routine. It can cause people to neglect friends, family members, and work responsibilities. It can also cause financial difficulties, a loss of occupation, and broken relationships.

The more a person takes heroin, the greater the risk of overdose. Heroin overdose is potentially fatal, but it can be reversed with effective medical care, including the drug naloxone. If you think someone may be experiencing a heroin overdose, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Signs of heroin overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing (even gasping)
  • Pale skin
  • Blue tint on lips and fingertips
Heroin addiction in Arab countries

What Is the Extent of Substance Abuse in Arabic Countries?

Substance abuse in Arab countries has previously been a neglected research area. Cultural and social norms that oppose substance use have limited data collection and scientific studies in the field. However, there has been a growth in substance abuse and mental health research in recent years, giving a much clearer picture of drug abuse in Arab countries.

A review of drug use in the Arabic Gulf region confirms substance abuse in Gulf nations, with alcohol, heroin, and hashish amongst the most commonly abused substances. The development of specialised treatment centres like the Al-Aman centre in Saudi Arabia also points to the existence of drug use and addiction.

What Is the Extent of Heroin Abuse in Arabic Countries?

In 2019, a team of researchers published substance abuse research surrounding substance abuse trends in Saudi Arabia between 1993 and 2013. Amongst other things, they investigated the use of heroin and other opiates. In 2013, they found that:

  • opiate abuse was more common amongst young people than older people.
  • the higher someone’s education, the less likely they are to be addicted to opiates.
  • unemployment was associated with opiate use.
  • the more significant the abuse and dependence on opium, the lower the likelihood of cannabis abuse and addiction.

Many reports suggest that heroin use is rising in Arabic Gulf countries, with some data suggesting that heroin is becoming the preferred choice in young users. A dramatic increase in quantities of drugs seized by the authorities also suggests that heroin abuse and addiction is increasing.

In response to substance abuse, efforts have been made to reduce the demand for opiates and other drugs and prevent drug abuse from occurring. In 2001, the Demand Reduction Committee was formed to coordinate law enforcement, rehabilitation, education, and other drug prevention policies.

Why Do People Use Heroin in Arabic Countries?

There are many risk factors for heroin abuse and addiction. These include:

  • Genetics. Genetics may account for 50% of a person’s risk of developing an addiction.
  • Trauma and early life adversity. Experience of traumatic events and early life adversity makes developing an addiction more likely.
  • Environment. Peer pressure and access to heroin increase the risk of addiction.

Heroin Production in Arabic Countries

Around 90% of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan, which is located close to many Arab and Islamic countries. Drug trafficking routes appear to go through Gulf nations, where authorities seize vast quantities of the drug. Proximity to these areas may lead to increased availability and accessibility in Gulf nations, encouraging heroin use.

Historical Opium Use

Historical evidence suggests that opium used to be a medicinal substance in the Middle East. Historical texts document how various influential Arab figures such as Ibn Sina recommended the use of heroin.

Heroin, a semi-synthetic counterpart, is far removed from this cultural context, and people tend to abuse it for its euphoric high rather than pain-relieving effects. However, the historical-cultural acceptability of medicinal opium use may encourage its use today, especially in societies where alcohol is not accepted.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin addiction can seriously damage an individual’s health and future. However, with the right support, recovery is possible for anyone.

Addcounsel is a private and exclusive treatment centre in Mayfair, London. We offer luxury rehabilitation experiences to clients with heroin addiction, guiding them to lifelong recovery.

At Addcounsel, we employ a ‘one client at a time’ approach, offering unrivalled privacy and clinical support. We tailor our programmes to each client’s individual needs, providing a bespoke and tailored experience from beginning to end. Clients have one-to-one access to our expert team of medics and mental health professionals, including the UK’s leading psychiatrists.

Our programme for heroin addiction offers one of the world’s most extensive range of treatment services. We combine innovative, evidence-based treatment approaches and diagnostic technologies, including:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Family systems therapy
  • Spiritual counselling
  • Mindfulness
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)
  • Somatic experiencing
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Positive psychology
  • Hypnotherapy

We work our programme around each client’s needs, obligations, and responsibilities by offering home care, inpatient, and online options. Doing so ensures that anyone can take advantage of a recovery schedule that suits their rhythm.

We are fully invested in the recovery journey of every client from the first contact. Contact us today to arrange a consultation and take the first step to recovery.


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