By Nawal Al Ramahi

 

Hundreds of people battling drug addiction in Sharjah are getting their lives back on track - thanks to a forward-thinking initiative that puts the focus on rehabilitation over punishment.

A change in the anti-narcotics law, introduced at the end of 2016, means that offenders who are reported to the police, prosecutors or a rehabilitation centre by their families will face no penalty and will instead receive treatment until it is decided they made a suitable recovery and can be released.

Previously, this was only the case if the drug user handed themselves in.

The change in the law has inspired many worried family members to speak out and seek help from the authorities in order to help their relatives escape a life of despair.

One woman, 40, reported her son, 21, to Sharjah Police a few weeks ago. “I was hopeless. I reported him to police after learning that he could be placed in a rehabilitation centre, which will be safer for him than his own home,” said the woman, who holds a Comoros Islands passport.

“I believe he started consuming Tramadol a few months ago. A while ago I noticed a white powder in his room. I found out it was crystal meth and decided to report him to the anti-narcotics department at Sharjah Police. He promised a thousand times that he would not do it again. A promise that was broken so many times,” she said.

The 40-year-old woman placed her son in a rehabilitation centre. Officials at Sharjah Police co-ordinated with a rehabilitation centre and the young man is now being treated, offering a beacon of hope in a dark time.