المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Rebel-held areas | North of Syria falls into the grip of narcotics and drugs abuse

The negative phenomena of the war in Syria are increasing, and are spreading among young people, including drug abuse, where this phenomenon has become widespread in the areas of northern Syria run by the “Salvation Government”, while HTS militarily controls this geographical area.

A staff member at the “Save the Spirit” centre, which specializes in the treatment of addictions and other diseases in the city of Dana, north of Idlib, told SOHR that the centre receives monthly 30 to 40 cases of addiction approximately. Most of cases suffer from addictions from rural Idlib and Aleppo, including alcoholism and drug addiction or sedative drugs that have recently replaced drugs, such as “Tramadol.”

The role of the center is to receive the addict and treat him. The patients are given certain medications to clear their bodies of the effect of drugs for up to 15 days, and then being transferred to rehabilitation centre supervised by specialists to follow up on his condition until full recovery from addiction.

He added that there is a large number of cases addicted to hashish, and then comes the addiction to Tramadol and Captagon, which are very similar to the effects of drugs, as the addicts lose the ability to control themselves and put them in a mood similar to drugs such as hashish.

The staff member concluded “We must work hard to reduce the widespread of abuse drugs of all kinds in the north of Syria, and help addicts to get rid of their addiction, because drugs destroy the human body and its mental health and social life as well.”

A former member of the “Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement”, known by his initial as “R.A.”, aged 35, who have recovered from addiction to hallucinogenic pills and hashish, told SOHR about his addiction to hallucinogenic pills that he sometimes took in battles with regime forces and intensive shelling. He was getting these pills from someone who was selling them publicly to many members.

Then he started taking tranquilizers in 2016 after he had a car accident that resulted in several fractures in his legs, after which he was hospitalized. After that he started taking sedatives, including Tramadol, for a long time until he became addicted to it. He added that he started using hashish he was getting from one of the movement’s leaders.

Hashish was secretly grown in the Sahl al-Ghab area in western Hama countryside under the supervision of prominent leaders of “Ahrar al-Sham.”

He concluded “since the beginning of 2020, I have been recovering from these drugs, for which I lost my health. I left my military career, and I started working in free trade and i am trying to forget everything that happened.”

As for the sources of drugs that are spreading in the north of Syria, a media activist from the city of Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside, speaks to SOHR “the main source of drugs is from the regime-held areas and smuggled to areas of northern Syria, while some of these drugs are smuggled from Turkey, and the SDF-held areas.”

The media activist added that “hashish is secretly grown in several areas in countryside of Aleppo and Idlib, where information has been received, some time ago, suggesting that a land plot used to grow hashish has been found in the city of Darkoush in western countryside of Idlib. And here in northern Aleppo hashish is grown under the supervision of the leaders of the Turkish-backed factions.”

He continues “There are several reasons for this widespread of drugs, including lack of oversight and security chaos, the proliferation of unlicensed pharmacies that sell some types of drugs that compete with drugs in their impact, and corruption in all areas of northern Syria, as alcohol is sold in some stores publicly.”

He concluded his testimony saying “the factions and their leaders bear the biggest responsibility, as they contribute significantly to the spread of these drugs, especially hashish, through the cultivation of hashish on the one hand, and turning a blind eye to smuggling operations and trade with other types of drugs on the other. While the ultimate victims of this destructive phenomenon are the young Syrians.”

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