(Researcher and Research supervisor)
The Arab Thought Forum conducted a study on the phenomenon of drug abuse in Jerusalem. The study showed that drug abuse is prevalent in the city and that several kinds of substances are widespread, most important of which is Heroin.
- Age groups and numbers of drug users:
The study showed that the highest rate of drug addiction is found among the 20-22 years age group, reaching 32%. The approximate number of addicts in Jerusalem was put at 5,000 all males, or 2.4% of the total Arab population of the city. It was not possible however to define the number of women drug users in the city, because the prevailing traditions and social mores made it difficult to reach them.
Substances, in all their dangerous varieties are widespread at different levels in all parts of Jerusalem without exception. The highest of these rates is found in the Old City, where it reaches 16% of the sample.
- Social reasons of drug abuse in Jerusalem:
The social reasons for drug abuse first and foremost lie basically in the family. The family is the core unit within society, which shoulders the responsibility of nurturing children, trying to understand their psychological, social and economic needs, and meeting these as much as possible, in an atmosphere of security and assurance, away from familial conflicts and problems.
The study showed that the highest rate of drug abuse was linked to a lack of understanding between parents and drug addicts, accounting for 78.9% of the sample.
The study also showed that the absence of a parent had a major impact, bringing the rate of drug users within this group in the sample to 60%. It was also found that the presence of an addict member of the family remarkably affects the spread of this social disease among other family members. The rate in such instances is 69.2% of the sample.
Drug abuse affects to a great extent all social relations and interactions, starting with the family and ending with the society at large. Access to drugs becomes the most important thing to the addict, regardless of its dangers both to the addict and to others, forcing the addict to engage in violent behavior to get the needed money for the purchase of the drugs. Such behavior leads to many social ills, and the negative impact associated with drug abuse leads to a deterioration of the relationship between the parents and the addict. Especially among those who are regular and consistent drug users, the study showed that for 35.3% of them the relationship with the father was irreparable. Similarly, the addict loses concern for his wife, for the most part resulting in a deterioration of the marital relationship, reaching irreparable levels for 23.2% of the sample.
- Economic effects of drug abuse in Jerusalem
The economic factor is tightly linked to social life. It affects and is affected by human beings, and official and unofficial institutions. It also influences the nature of their interactions and inter-relations.
The study showed that the highest rate of drug abuse is found among the unemployed, reaching 72.4 %. It was also found that for 70.8% of the sample, drug addiction is the main reason for quitting work.
- Cultural and Educational effects of drug abuse in Jerusalem.
Behavior is considered an expression of the individual s character. Character is shaped by the education and social nurturing the individual gets from the family in the first place, and from the values, customs, and traditions of the society in the second place.
The study showed that the highest rate of drug abuse was linked to the fathers illiteracy, accounting for 52% of the sample. It was also found that 53.6% of users were themselves illiterate. Drug users lose interest in even the simplest aspects of life, including cultural matters. They also lose their interest in following up scientific and technological developments.
- The political situation and its relation to the spread out of drug abuse in Jerusalem.
For 33 years, Jerusalem has been living through special political circumstances. It is subjected to the Israeli occupation, which used all means and methods to instill frustration, worry and constant tension among youths, and to prevent them from achievement, aiming to keep them weak in character.
The occupation selected this particular age group because it is easy to influence its deviation, and to keep it away from being interested in any social and national matters through addiction.
- Social institutions working on drug addiction in Jerusalem.
The study covered private and official Palestinian institutions related to the issue of drugs. It was found that there is a weakness in strategic planning in regards to the nature of their work, viability and continuity of their services. There is also a shortage of psychological and social specialists. As for the objectives, there are some weaknesses related to their formulation, as they are general, comprehensive and not specific. Current and future programs are not sufficient enough for meeting the needs of the society in terms of dealing with the phenomenon of drug abuse.
The recommendations include three tracks, namely preventing, treating, and fighting drug abuse:
Preventing drug abuse: there is a need to establish a center specialized in the prevention of drug abuse with the aim of organizing various scientific studies, collecting statistics, and conducting comprehensive awareness campaigns.
- Treating drug abuse: to activate current treatment centers, raise the level of cooperation among these centers, train the professional staff in the needed scientific knowledge and skills, develop rehabilitation and curative plans by enhancing focus on psychological and social aspects with the aim of modifying the behavior of persons under treatment, and raise their level of adaptation to the society. The center should be established in a location near Jerusalem, away from crowded residential areas, to treat and rehabilitate drug users. The center should be equipped with curative and rehabilitative needs.
Fighting drug abuse: the need for a clear and candid text in the law in regards to growing, manufacturing, distributing and abusing drugs in Palestinian society, with the aim of restricting the spread of this phenomenon.