In Iran, the people daily witness the heartbreaking conditions of addicted women on the side of highways, the corner of ruins, or in destroyed slums. Iranian officials downplay the actual number of addicts to cover up their failure to contain this social phenomenon.

“Among 2.8 million addicts in the country, around 156,000 persons are women, meaning six percent of the total addicted population,” said Reza Tuiserkan Manesh, the director-general for treatment and social support in the anti-narcotics headquarters.

Many observers believe that these statistics are not accurate and include pretentious addicts. They mention official figures in 2011, which indicated there were 4 million addicts across the country with an 8-percent increasing rate per year. According to the 2011 report, there are currently more than 7 million consumers of different kinds of narcotics, including 600,000 women throughout the country.

Scattered Statistics of Female Addicts

Relevant officials occasionally announce some figures about addicted people. However, there is not a precise number of female addicts’ population. Based on some studies, women consist of between seven to 10 percent of addicted persons.

“Latest statistics show that nine percent of addicted people are women,” said Fatemeh Rezvan Madani, the chief of advancing prevention and treatment of addiction.

However, all officials and media approximately confirm that the population of female addicts are growing. On the other hand, official statistics usually contain addicted people who are seen in the shape of displaced people beside the streets or highways while many addicts have yet to lose their regular lives.

Iranian Women’s Consumption Pattern

Scattered research about addiction among women displays that during recent years female school and college students have oriented to consuming industrial narcotics. This issue is rooted in easy access to these kinds of drugs.

However, Rezvan Madani says, “The most common cause of addiction among women is addicted husbands, addicted parents, and eventually addicted friends.”

The addiction, regardless of gender, causes a lot of harms to the addict, relatives, and society. However, women endure more harms in comparison to men and tolerate social stigma. Nonetheless, the number of female addicts is still on the rise.

“In the past 15 years, research show that the women’s orientation to addiction has been doubled,” said Farzaneh Sohrabi, the social deputy of Cudras institute, in an interview with the semiofficial ISNA news agency. She described that women’s consumption pattern has turned from traditional drugs into industrial and psychiatric narcotics.

“An analysis of statistics shows that a high percentage of female consumers had oriented to methamphetamine, crack cocaine, opium-methamphetamine, and heroin-methamphetamine, meaning more than half of female drug-consumers—51 percent—use new and more dangerous narcotics,” Sohrabi added.

Meanwhile, official reports and statistics indicate the average age of addiction for women is between 20 to 36. Also, women mostly consume opium, methamphetamine, alcohol, and crack cocaine, based on official sources.

Reasons for Women’s Addiction

It is said that there are several reasons for being addicted, and its reasons differ between the people. Poverty, economic disorders, psychological dilemmas, and friends may lead an individual to addiction. However, most of female addicts in Iran had been addicted by one of their family members. In this context, Leyla Arshad, the founder and director of the anti-narcotics institution for women Khaneh Khorshid, says, “Addiction is not women’s choice; it is their destiny.”

On the other hand, some activists believe that the denial of addiction among women is not an appropriate path to resolve this social phenomenon. Nayyereh Tavakkoli, a sociologist, highlights poverty and the lack of family and social supports as the main reasons of women’s orientation to addiction.

“As we remove the issue and ignore it, these harms would not be resolved. Wide research must be done in the respect of women’s addiction to find proper solutions,” she said. “Many of youths orient to addiction due to frustration, failure, insufficient, and to free themselves from loneliness and psychological pressure. When the situation for women is such that this feeling is many times more than the men, then it can be expected that the tendency to addiction in women will increase significantly.”

Furthermore, the government does nothing to resolve this phenomenon. Officials’ only method for addiction is detaining addicted people for 15 days. Many experts criticize this insufficient and fruitless method. For instance, Leyla Arshad says, “The arrest is the only approach in this field. Fifteen days after arrest and prohibition of consumption, detained persons will return to the same place, where they used to consume narcotics, without principal therapy.”