By Abdellatif Sharaa

KUWAIT: Secretariat General of the Arab Federation for Drug Prevention in cooperation with Kuwait Society for Preventing Smoking and Cancer organized a workshop titled 'Smoking and addiction and its relation with health'. The workshop was part of efforts to focus on the problem of drug use, which is considered a social deviation that causes much harm to the individual and family, which is the society's nucleus.

This comes as an implementation of strategies to strengthen drug prevention the world is interested in to confront its unprecedented spread. Specialists and studies have proven that smoking is the main gateway to drugs. Several specialists from Kuwait and Egypt participated in the workshop, which was moderated by board member of the Arab Federation for Drug Prevention Dr Hussa Majid Al-Shaheen, who welcomed guests and gave a brief about the federation. She said the federation since its establishment in 1998 has succeeded in achieving many items of its strategy, especially with regards to the youth and adolescents of both genders.

Dr Mariam Abdelmohsen Al-Otaibi, who is in charge of smoking cessation clinic at Kuwait society for preventing smoking and cancer spoke about the effects of vaping on health, as scientific studies proved that the percentage of lung and respiratory system diseases is higher among e-cigarette smokers, in addition to brain damage, oral diseases and heart problems. She said depression cases increase among vapers 2.4 percent more than non-users, adding that e-smoking is a means of quitting smoking, as reported by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Deputy Chairman of International Psychological Association, consultant psychiatrist Dr Mohammad Abu Al-Azaem, spoke about psychological health in drug and addiction issues. He spoke about what happens to the brain following drug use, including losing control over actions and the user's detachment from reality, as horrible crimes are committed without any effect on the abuser. "This is what we are afraid of - an increase in crimes in our Arab countries," he said.

Dr Azaem said drugs affect the user's feelings and causes mood fluctuations. It makes the individual introverted and isolated, and leads to depression, sadness and nervousness. He said the department concerned with fighting drugs and crime at the United Nations reported that the death percentage due to heroin alone increased to 71 percent in the past 10 years.

Dr Khalid Al-Saleh

Secretary General of the Arab Federation for Drug Prevention Dr Khalid Al-Saleh spoke about the harms caused by smoking, adding smoking is considered a form of addiction by WHO because nicotine is poisonous and reacts with nerve ends in the human body. He said tobacco addiction is a major cause of preventable deaths around the world, adding that WHO said there are more than one billion smokers around the world, and it is expected that more that one million people will die in 2030 due to diseases resulting from smoking.

Dr Saleh emphasized the importance of introducing defensive behaviors in the ministry of education curricula and use modern technologies in fighting smoking, which is a gateway to addiction. Participants agreed on the importance of improving medicines that help reduce withdrawal symptoms among smokers and addicts, because it is a painful stage that can be a motive to continue drug abuse. They also recommended benefitting from modern technologies to re-program the brain.

They recommended having a permanent exhibition to promote awareness against smoking and drugs, in which modern scientific tools are used to explain harms to the human body and be a reference for youth and their families. Participants in the workshop thanked the interior ministry for its efforts to prevent the spread of drugs. They also thanked Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences for supporting activities that aim to protect the society from dangerous scourges such as smoking and drugs.