Yemen Drug Addiction

Sanaa Yemen

Yemen’s most pervasive drug problem is one that is rooted in cultural acceptability going back 500 years or more. And that is the chewing of khat or qat, the leaves of a shrub that grows in the country, that possess mild narcotic qualities. As much as 90 percent of adult men and 25 percent of the women store these leaves in their cheeks and slowly chew them throughout the day. The use of khat is common at social occasions but leads to problems of addiction and poor job performance.

As nearly half the families in Yemen live below the poverty line, to keep themselves supplied with khat they spend more on the drug than they spend on food. A one-day supply costs US$5 in a country where the average annual income is just US$900. Like methamphetamine, it deadens the appetite and stimulates the senses.

Khat plantation in Yemen
Khat plantation in Yemen

Many countries in the region use khat, but in Yemen, some people say its use approaches a national obsession. Yemen is a very poor country and it has a very high level of unemployment. Food supplies are scarce. Its population growth has been explosive which has produced a large number of poorly fed, disaffected youth. These problems set the stage for widespread khat use and addiction. Even some Yemeni children chew khat leaves, which can lead to malnutrition because of its appetite suppressant qualities.

Drug Trafficking Out of Yemen and into Saudi Arabia is a Persistent Problem

The border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia is largely porous, with weapons and drugs often passing into Saudi Arabia and food often passing into Yemen. Between 2008 and April 2010, six million kilograms of khat headed into Saudi Arabia from Yemen were seized, along with guns, whiskey, 4,000 kg of hashish and 387,000 narcotic pills.

Saudi Arabia has built a concrete wall along much of the border between the two countries, in an attempt to keep out drugs, guns, alcohol and those seeking to enter illegally to find work.

In 2008, Yemeni authorities seized more than 13 million tablets marked Captagon, the name often applied to formulations containing amphetamine. In one incident, 2.3 million Captagon tablets were found concealed in water heaters that were headed for Saudi Arabia.

In August 2010, a group of 15 smugglers attempted to bring 500 kg of hashish across the border into Saudi Arabia. They were fired on by the border guards and fired back, killing two guards. They finally left their shipment of drugs and fled back into Yemen.

Citizens of Yemen Can Benefit from Drug Rehabilitation

In Narconon, addicts can find the solution they need to drug or alcohol addiction. A holistic substance abuse treatment program takes those who are addicted through a thorough detoxification and reorientation exercises, and then into a life skills training regimen that enables people to leave the past behind and look forward to a bright new future. Graduates ordinarily restore family relationships, renew personal value systems and experience the relief of restored personal integrity. It all adds up to a new life without drugs.

To those who wish to break the pattern of drug use or drinking that is destroying their lives, Narconon provides a unique drug recovery program that works.

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