The use of addictive drug methamphetamine or shishe (as it is called in Iran) is rising rapidly in conservative Muslim nation as the lifestyle of the country speeds up.
According to official statistics, the use of methamphetamine has jumped so much in the last decade that about 345,000 Iranians are now considered addicts.
Seizures of methamphetamine soared 128 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to figures compiled by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In 2013, the Iranian government confiscated 3.6 tons of shishe.
A senior official from the Iran Drug Control Headquarters said last year that the drug could be found in Tehran in “less than five minutes.” Government sources said that shishe addicts in Iran are mostly urban, middle class and young. It is learned that many Iranian women are not addicted to the drug too.
“We really had a hard time convincing people that this is addiction,” said Azaraksh Mokri, a psychiatrist who teaches at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences and has dealt extensively with the issue of shishe addiction.
Shishe entered Iran about a decade ago and was lapped up by users who preferred its effects as a stimulant to the more soporific opium.