Is Egypt doing enough to fight drug addiction?

Egypt’s Ministry of Social Solidarity recently launched a drug abuse-awareness initiative in Port Said in an attempt to reach families and youths on summer holidays at the beach.

al-monitor The popular Egyptian soccer player Mo Saleh stars in an anti-drug video, whose caption here reads, “Get addicted to success." Posted March 31, 2018. Photo by Youtube/صندوق مكافحة وعلاج الإدمان.

Aug 17, 2018

CAIRO — In the coastal governorate of Port Said on Aug. 1, the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity's Anti-Addiction Treatment Fund implemented the initiative “Don’t Even Try” to raise awareness among citizens about the harmful effects of drug abuse and addiction. The initiative, had been launched July 28 in Alexandria, Matrouh and Kafr el-Sheikhon.

Ibrahim Askar, director of the fund’s Awareness and Education Program, told Al-Monitor, “The initiative focuses mainly on coastal cities, because there are large numbers of young people and families on the beaches during the summer. It is a great opportunity for us to deliver important messages about addiction and its damage.”

“Around 26,000 young volunteers are helping out,” Askar further explained. “We are distributing leaflets, to raise awareness about the dangers of addiction, and holding discussion sessions with youths and families on how to avoid abuse and the psychological and health damage it can cause.”

Askar noted that according to a study the fund published in 2016, 58% of addicts live with their parents, in normal, functioning homes, which is why the initiative focuses on families. In the past, family issues or the absence of a parent were thought to be major reasons leading to addiction.

“Through the initiative, citizens learn about the fund's hotline, which operates throughout the day and provides a safe space that respects the privacy of drug addicts,” said Askar. “Citizens in the coastal governorates are positively engaging with the initiative. It is always constructive to discuss this issue with citizens rather than just hold seminars and lectures because the community is key to fighting addiction.”

“Don’t Even Try” falls under the framework of recent anti-drug efforts led by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, most notably the “You Are Stronger Than Drugs” campaign, launched in May 2017, in which numerous public figures have participated.

The Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah is the most prominent celebrity to voluntarily film a video for “You Are Stronger Than Drugs,” in March. According to a fund press statement issued April 5, the number of addicts making use of the fund’s hotline increased by 400% within a month of the release of Salah's video, which is therefore credited with generating the uptick.

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