Addiction to morphine a growing problem in Oman

Muscat - 

Morphine addiction is a growing problem among Omani youth, who have easy access to the drug smuggled into the country from overseas, according to representatives from one of the world's renowned addiction rehabilitation centres.

The scale of the problem in Oman is not greater than regional countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran and is concentrated among Oman's middle class families, stated Simon Lewis, director at The Cabin Chiang Mai in Thailand, and Alastair Mordey, programme director. In an interview on Monday, they said they hoped to raise awareness on the problem. The Cabin Chiang Mai is an inpatient addiction treatment facility in northern Thailand. Lewis and Mordey arrived in Oman on Sunday for a four-day trip to hold meetings with clients and build contacts with local doctors.

“We deal with quite a lot of cases from Oman. It is probably the place from where we get the largest number of clients for rehabilitation. Oman is not behind the rest of the world, it is just moving at the same pace, and you are never going to stop drugs from coming into a country. There will always be people who require them and people willing to supply; eradication is just not possible,” said Lewis.

Echoing these views, Mordey said they were also approached by concerned parents during their trip as word got around of their arrival. “There is an issue here with morphine addiction, and it is growing by the looks of it. It affects middle class families more as the children have access to money, and you need a lot of it for morphine addiction,” he said.

Treatment of morphine addiction in Oman at present is limited, and it mostly deals with physical symptoms and consequences. What Oman and many countries around the world lack is the capability to look at the psychological care that is necessary to treat the patient.

“With serious drug addicts, you need residential treatment for a considerable time period. The brain will repair itself in a few months, but you need psychological help as well to give addicts half a chance,” said Mordey.

Lewis said that establishing such a centre in Oman wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem as a single location would likely contain addicts who know each other, making it easier to acquire the drug. “It helps to be away from the usual environment,” he added.

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