Writing by Patrick Keddie
On her wedding night 13 years ago, Wafaa found her husband injecting ayoun – a cheap powder-mix found in Egypt that gives users a heroin-like hit. “It’s just something fun,” he told her. Wafaa had already taken other drugs and pestered him to let her try it. He refused at first but later relented. She began taking it with him, and then going with him to buy it every day.
“A week after I’d first injected I woke up and told my husband – ‘I feel like my bones are broken,’” recalls Wafaa, now 32-years-old. “And he replied: ‘Well, now you are an addict.’” Her addiction lasted several years.
Female drug addiction is a fast-growing issue in Egypt, yet many women often struggle to access the support and drug rehabilitation they need.
The results of a 2008 survey conducted by Egypt’s National Council on Fighting and Treating Addiction (NCFTA) found that 8.5 percent of the Egyptian population were addicted to narcotics.
“Now, six years later, with a marked escalation of tramadol use, I guess that the number [of drug dependents] will have doubled,” says Ehab El-Kharrat who, as executive director of the private drug rehabilitation organisation Freedom Programme, is regarded as one of the foremost experts on drug abuse in Egypt. Research from the NCFTA also found that drug use among people over 15 years old had increased from 6.4 percent to 30 percent.
The NCFTA’s 2008 study found that the ratio of male to female drug addiction was around 5:1 in favour of men. El-Kharrat thinks that the ratio has since narrowed to something more like 3:1. Others – like Wafaa – believe it is approaching parity.
[Read the rest of the article published by Middle East Eye here]