More than three thousand Iranians die of drug abuse every year, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported June 24, quoting the country’s Drug Control Headquarters.
According to the report, Drug Control Headquarters Spokesman Parviz Afshar announced that drug-abuse related fatalities rose 6.2 percent last year. Mr. Afshar's announced rate of more than three thousand drug-abuse related fatalities seems to be an extremely low estimate.
Although it is very difficult to find independent figures in Iran, but a comparison with fatality rates in other countries can shed some light on the issue.
According to a research done in the U.K., 4.7 in every 1000 addicts died annually in England and Wales in a period between 1974 and 1993. That is - if applied to Iranian official statistics of at least 1.5 million addicts, there would be at least 7500 deaths from drug use.
“This increase has already sounded alarm bells,” Mr. Afshar said.
Opium is the most abused drug in Iran, accounting for 66.8 percent of illegal drug consumption.
Meanwhile, Afshar noted a decline in methamphetamine abuse, but added that 3600 pupils have been identified as being at high risk.
Last February, Hossein Tala, an MP and member of the Parliament’s Social Committee confirmed that 136,000 individuals were at risk of succumbing to drug abuse.
Tala said there were 130,000 addicted students in Iranian schools.
In addition, Shahindokht Mowlaverdi, President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy of women’s and family affairs, pegged the average age of addiction among female students in Iran at 13 years.
The "alarming" increase in drug abuse in Iran is happening despite Draconian punishments for drug-related offenses.
Drug smuggling is punishable by death according to Iran’s Islamic criminal code, but during recent months some legislators have decided to limit such executions.
“Voting in favor of this change will be a vote for the lives of the hundreds of families that are destroyed with the death of one of their members,” an Iranian MP wrote.