Picture for illustrative purposes: female drug addicts more at risk from contracting coronavirus Image Credit: Agency

Dubai: People who use illicit drugs are potentially at increased risk during the coronavirus pandemic, especially female addicts, Emirati experts have warned.

Dr Hamad Al Ghaferi, Director General of the National Rehabilitation Centre, believed that more psychological problems will appear on the surface after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Recent studies suggested the rate of psychological traumas will increase between four to 41 per cent after the end of the pandemic as well as increase of depression by seven per cent,” Dr Al Ghaferi said during a virtual session organised by Dubai Police Hemaya International Centre.

“Another study revealed that the infection rate of the disease is more likely to happen for female drug addicts rather than the male addicts,” he added.

Drug rehab experts and Dubai Police officers who attended the session on Thursday, called for multiple psychological and social studies about the impact of COVID-19 on society especially among drug addicts as they stay home for long hours.

Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said that addicts have two problems in this crisis.

“They have a problem of relapsing and fears of being infected by coronavirus. Dubai Police provide support and increase the awareness among addicts. We should know how to benefit from staying home for long time to enhance family bonds and protect our children,” Maj Gen Al Mansouri said in the session.

Colonel Abdullah Al Khayat, Director of Hemaya International Center at Dubai Police, said that the International Narcotics Control Board recent report, highlighted worrying cases like an increase in psycho-active substance addiction among young people.

“The February 2020 report stated that high rates of addiction and using illegal substances was in Europe with 13 per cent among young people. According to the United Nations, In 2016, about 13.8 million young people aged between 15 to 16-year-old were drug addicts on Hashish and Marijuana,” Col Al Khayat added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Hatem Ali, Regional Director of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GGC, Office of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, said that drug gangs are still using shipping routes to smuggle drugs amid the restriction on travel between countries.