Vice Chancellor National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) Lt Gen Wasim  Alamgir HI(M)  said the initiative to host  the  conference on substance abuse was taken in recognition  of rising use of drugs and for giving hope to  patients  afflicted  with  drug addiction in the country.

Addressing as the chief guest, at the inaugural session of one- day international conference, jointly organized by NUMS Department of Psychology and Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development (PFRD) Lahore, at the Army Medical College(AMC) here, he said, there was no need to be despondent in view of available remedies.

Those who graced the occasion, besides delegates and representatives of the universities and psychological institutes from across the country, were principal of  AMC Maj Gen Farrukh Saeed HI(M),  Director General Anti- Narcotics Force  Maj Gen  Ghulam Shabeer Narejo,  NUMS,s Pro Vice Chancellor  Academics Maj Gen Saleem Ahmad Khan HI(M), (Retd), Pro Vice Chancellor  Administration, Maj Gen Syed Ammar Reza Hamdani HI(M), (Retd), Dean Social Sciences & Humanities  Prof Azam Chaudhary, Vice Chancellor of FATA University in KPK Dr Jahanzeb Khan, Senior Technical Advisor, Dean of Faculty of Multidisciplinary Studies Dr Aisha Mohyuddin, Dr. Izhar ul Haq UNODC Country Office Islamabad,  Asif Hussain, Director Research & Innovation Division Higher Education Commission, NUMS senior Faculty members and students of the college.

Lt Gen Wasim Alamgir did not agree with the gloom and doom scenario on drugs abuse and said those who unfortunately had fallen prey to drug addiction, need attention and care. Those who have gone down the “slippery slope” they have possibilities to get back to normal life again. “There is no need to be hopeless and I strongly believe they do have the hope,” he said, adding as a society we should gather our act for concerted efforts for prevention of this menace. He urged the students to be the “ambassadors of hope” to play their role in the prevention of the substance abuse. He said the universities were supposed to generate knowledge and hoped that the representatives of the educational institutions, hailing from across the country would also contribute in this regard.

In his message to the conference, the Vice Chancellor said this conference had provided a “platform to scientific community to explore the possibilities to overcome this menace and discuss and share evidence –based methods to facilitate recovery and prevent relapses; thereby improving other outcomes, including criminal behavior, controlling infectious diseases and sustaining wellness”.

The Vice Chancellor gave away NUMS,s  Shields and Certificates to key note speakers   who included  Director General Anti- Narcotics  Force  Maj General Ghulam Shabeer Narejo ,  principal of  AMC Maj Gen Farrukh Saeed HI(M),  Vice Chancellor of  FATA University in KPK, Dr  Jahanzeb Khan, Dr Mowadat Hussain Rana, Dr Salman Shahzad Associate Prof Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Karachi and CEO  of Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development (PFRD) Lahore  Dr Noor ul Zaman  Rafiq.

Principal AMC Maj Gen Farrukh Saeed, said drugs abuse should be tackled at the national level so that the youth could be saved from its addiction. In his welcome address Prof Dean of Social Sciences & Humanities Prof Azam Chaudhary said the valuable contribution of the participants in light of their experience, would help tackle multiple challenges linked to substance abuse. This will also be a step forward to reduce its negative health and social consequences.

Pro Vice Chancellor Academics Maj Gen Saleem Ahmed Khan (Retd), on the occasion, gave away NUMS’s Shields to Consultant psychiatrist Dr Fareed Minhas, Dr Nashi Khan Dean FSS & Director RLDDP, Rashid Latif Khan University (RLKU), Lahore.

Director General Anti- Narcotics Force Maj General Ghulam Shabeer Narejo in his talk said, drugs barons have found new ways to smuggle 40 to 45 per cent world’s heroin through Pakistan. ANF had seized about $44 Billion worth of drugs in last four years while the conviction ratio of narcotics carriers was 89 per cent, he added. Vice Chancellor FATA University in KPK Dr Jahanzeb Khan called for highlighting the damaging impact of substance abuse to counter glamour of narcotics. Dr Mowadat Hussain Rana, a renowned psychiatrist, said that the parents have to work to cut demand for drugs by creating a happier, trauma- free home environment and the society, school and street must join hands to tackle this challenge by giving due attention to children.  The CEO of Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development (PFRD) Lahore Dr Noor- ul -Zaman Rafiq, said it was not possible to hold this conference without their involvement and support.

The Plenary Session, was chaired and co-chaired by principal Army Medical College, Maj Gen Farrukh Saeed and by Dr Nashin Khan respectively.  In his remarks Dr Salman Shahzad, Associate Prof Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Karachi, called for forming coalition of the academic institutions to deal with the challenge of substance abuse. Dr Fareed Minhas, Consultant Psychiatrist, said that low self- esteem and poor self-image were some of the factors behind substance abuse. Parenting is far more important than producing a child and teachers should also pay attention to emotional needs of the students, he added. 

The international speakers Dr Kevin P. Mulvey Executive Director International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand Reduction (ICUDOR) emphasized the need for developing a Global Drug Demand Workforce. Dr Prapapun  Chucharoen ASEAN  Institute for Health Development , Mahidol University, Thailand  dilated on importance of credentialing and  certification and role of  ICUDDR and extended full support for curbing the substance abuse.

After a day-long deliberation the conference called upon all stakeholders, educational institutions and parents for creating awareness about disease of substance abuse to make them realize that drugs addiction had become a national problem. The participants suggested that “drug users are humans” so they needed to be dealt humanely and efforts be made to work on the stigma of substance use. The conference called for removing legal lacunae for strict enforcement of laws for controlling the supply of drugs and gave stringent punishment to drugs dealers and suppliers.