Stress and loneliness are the main causes of the increase in cases of women, young and fragile, who abuse drugs. The phenomenon has been accentuated by the pandemic, in a country where the social stigma of those who have addiction problems is still very strong. Yaba is the most consumed substance.
Dhaka () – The mother of Anita Gomes (not her real name) is very worried. Her 21-year-old only daughter has become a stranger since she became addicted to yaba. Yaba is a combination of concentrated caffeine and methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant drug that can cause mental and physical disorders, especially if used over an extended period of time. “She was treated twice in a rehabilitation center, but then she relapsed again,” the mother told , in a low voice and keeping a secret that she has not revealed to anyone for fear of the social stigma attached to drugs. In fact, before she began abusing the yaba, the young woman she obtained excellent grades in her university studies. Anita’s story is less and less an isolated case in Bangladesh.
The one who has shown the dimensions, albeit approximate, of the phenomenon is Dr. Aruparatan Chowdhury, a member of the National Narcotics Control Committee, who said: “Although there are no official statistics on drug addicts in the country, we estimate that there are more than 10 million, and 80% of them are young, 43% do not have a job and 60% commit crimes of retail sale or to buy the dose. The most significant fact about the speed with which it is increasing is that 5% of addicts are women and 90% are between 15 and 35 years old.”
The director of the Dhaka Ahsania Mission Women’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, Iqbal Masud, provides reliable data on the phenomenon, and explains: “Since 2014 we have cared for 647 women with multiple addictions to different substances, but also with mental disorders, of which of which 129 have had relapses”. Some of the drugs most consumed by women undergoing treatment are yaba (33%), marijuana (28%), sleeping pills (16%), various drugs (15%) and alcohol (2%). Patients with addiction problems also suffered from mental health problems: 34% of hospitalized female cases had schizophrenia, 30% mood disorders, 12% were bipolar, and 10% were living with depression.
Dr. Pallab Rozario, head of the Health area of Caritas Bangladesh, explained to that after the Covid-19 pandemic, the rate of women drug addicts has increased alarmingly: “Stress and loneliness are the main causes affecting particularly young university students. In fact, we have observed that many times several members of a study group become addicted to substances at the same time.
In addition to the pathology, there is also another issue that makes the story of Ana Gomes emblematic: the mother has not spoken about her daughter’s addiction and hospitalization with any other family member: “The issue of drug-addicted women does not come out to light in the country due to the strong social stigma that still affects those who use substances and their families in Bangladesh,” explains the professional. With the support of Caritas Germany and Bangladesh, Rozario led a project to treat women for a long time drug addicts, but it was closed two years ago due to lack of funds.”With another health program we continue to carry out training and prevention in schools, so that women stay away from drugs,” concludes Rozario.