Admit drug problem and seek help, addicts in UAE told

Speakers at conference tell of the scourge of drugs as Dubai Police reveal there were more than 900 cases involving narcotics last year.

Tramadol tablets seized in Dubai last year as they were being smuggled through the country. Police say the abuse of Tramadol is the most prevalent drug problem in the country. Courtesy Dubai Customs
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DUBAI // Police are appealing to drug addicts to not fear admitting their problems after it was revealed there were 900 cases involving narcotics in the emirate last year.

Lt Col Juma Al Shamsi, of the anti-narcotics department, urged users to come forward at a conference launching a drugs campaign called “Hand in hand to protect our children”.

“If you know someone who needs help, they shouldn’t hesitate to come forth, we will help them,” he said. “We always try to take the road of rationality and understanding before prosecution.” Lt Col Al Shamsi said addiction took over the body, and beating the problem was a long and strenuous road.

“It is not just a matter of stopping the drug, because the body will suffer from withdrawal symptoms.”

He also said that if a person was caught dealing or selling drugs, it could lead to either a lifetime prison sentence or execution.

“It doesn’t matter what the amount is. If you are caught selling a small amount or a large amount, it’s all the same and the consequences are the same.”

Figures revealed at the conference showed more than 900 cases involving drugs were dealt with by Dubai Police last year, up from 811 in 2012.

Lt Col Al Shamsi said that more than 400 of the cases in 2013 involved Emiratis but the figure was greater than 500 in 2012, meaning fewer locals were now involved with drugs.

He said that the cases last year involved 1,193 people – Emiratis and expatriates – and that represented a slight increase from 1,133 people the previous year.

Organised by the General Department of Anti-Narcotics and Dubai Men’s College, the conference also marked the opening of an exhibition at the college to raise awareness of the negative effects of drugs on youths.

“People die of addiction and from drugs every year,” Lt Col Al Shamsi said, adding that Tramadol pills were the most prevalent drug problem in the UAE.

He told the story of a bodybuilder who suffered from addiction.

“The man was a US graduate and very successful, but turned to hormones to help him to bodybuild. He said they made him angry and nervous, and so he started taking [antidepressant] pills to calm down,” said Lt Col Al Shamsi.

He said the man was taken for treatment but reverted back to taking drugs and eventually died, adding that, although not impossible, addiction was very hard to beat.

Dr Abdulaziz Al Hammadi, head of the Family Cases Section at Dubai Courts, said that drugs were a problem in the emirate.

“It’s not easy to beat addiction,” he said. “Even if you think you are just experimenting, you have paved your way to addiction.”

He added that the country depended on its people to build and develop it.

“Your country needs you. You are the future of the country and you will build it. Thank God we are a safe and secure country, which many other nations envy. We shouldn’t take that for granted.”

Dr Saoud Al Mulla, director of Higher Colleges of Technology, said such conferences were beneficial to students.

“We are always pleased to work closely and coordinate with Dubai Police on such matters that are very important to the students and the community.”

Khaled Al Hammadi, head of drugs prosecution at Dubai Police Prosecution, said that the scourge of drugs affected all nationalities and communities.

“Drugs destroy the self and soul, and we need to put a stop to it from the very beginning,” he said.

Capt Mohammed Al Hammadi, head of Criminology at the General Department of Forensic Evidence, said that drugs affected people’s perceptions.

“Doing drugs leads to confusion and will affect a person’s understanding and learning,” he said, adding that addicts also suffered from paranoia.

“An addict will be nervous and scared at all times. He would get nervous every time he saw a police officer or every time he gets a call from an unknown number,” said Capt Al Hammadi.

“It might be exciting at first and a person may feel euphoric. However, that feeling won’t last but will, in fact, turn into depression.”