Narcotics sales on the rise in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria – Wafaa Keshi, head of the Syndicate of Syrian Pharmacists, has warned of an increase in demand for tranquilizers among Syrians.

In a press release distributed to media close to the Syrian government on August 23, Keshi explained that Syrians are increasingly turning to narcotics mainly due to the acute crises and wars in Syria that are triggering mental illnesses.

Keshi said that the Syndicate of Syrian Pharmacists does not have accurate statistics on the rate of consumption of these drugs, pointing out that the Ministry of Health and subcommittees of the union have detected violations by some pharmacies that sell these narcotics without a prescription.

She stressed that war victims and survivors with permanent disabilities need psychological treatment under medical supervision.

A source from the Syndicate of Syrian Pharmacists in Damascus told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that psychotropic drugs made up 70 percent of pharmacy sales last year.

The source explained this phenomenon by saying that the dire economic conditions and poverty faced by Syrians due to the high cost of living, low government salaries and inability to pay for health, education and subsistence have driven large segments of Syrians to become addicted to tranquilizers and sedatives. as a way to escape their reality.

Ahmad Shams al-Din, a pharmacist from the town of Jaramana in Rif Dimashq governorate, told Al-Monitor that he was selling prescription tranquilizers to more than 10 people, most of whom are war victims.

“Medicines that contain higher levels of narcotic substances have increased in demand in the Syrian market. The number of people dependent on these drugs has increased dramatically in recent years,” he said.

Shams al-Din said Syrians are discovering new types of narcotics every day, which have spread widely on the black market and away from pharmacies, especially the locally made “green cough syrup” called Cemowhich contains large amounts of codeine, as well as baltanwhich contains heroin and is often recommended to treat psychosomatic disorders as well as drug addicts suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Qais Khazal, a neuropsychiatrist, told Al-Monitor: “Tranquilizers have become common among university students, most of whom take Baltan pills before taking an exam, thinking it will energize them and open their minds. ‘spirit.

Damascus University student Alia Zuhair told Al-Monitor that she started with half a Baltan pill a day, but after six months she started taking three pills every six hours.

“I also took other narcotics like Cemo green cough syrup and Proxamol painkillers,” she added.

Bashar Hekmat, a grocery store owner in Damascus’s al-Qasaa neighborhood who was officially addicted to tramadol, told Al-Monitor that some pharmacies refused to sell him narcotic pills without a prescription, but he offered pharmacists three times the price of the drug to get it.

“I used to pay $25 for a pack of 10 pills,” he said.

According to the source in the Syndicate of Syrian Pharmacists, some drug distributors use the names and seals of pharmacies that have closed or whose owners have moved to other governorates or abroad, to register under their name and obtain their share of tranquillizers to sell to other pharmacies without registering them in the registers of the Ministry of Health.

“Some also sell them to drug dealers on the black market,” the source said.

Louay Baaj, a pharmacist, told Al-Monitor: “Tramadol is one of the most popular narcotic pills among Syrian drug addicts, which is sold under the trade name of Neodol, which is a central painkiller.

“There is also another drug called Zolam and Baltan, both used to treat anxiety and mental disorders, in addition to Cemo, which contains the addictive substance codeine,” he added.

“Syrian drug addicts find it difficult to obtain conventional narcotics, so they have resorted to alternative solutions such as biogabalin and pregabalin, which are over-the-counter drugs used to treat diabetics who develop neuropathy,” explained Baaj.

Comments are closed.