Addicted to love: Saudi premarital drug test fail

Published January 27th, 2014 - 05:57 GMT

The drug addiction test initiated by the Health Ministry for prospective brides and grooms has proved useless as it fails to gauge addiction levels and thus determine marriage eligibility, a top official has said.

The drug addiction test initiated by the Health Ministry for prospective brides and grooms has proved useless as it fails to gauge addiction levels and thus determine marriage eligibility, a top official has said.


Mohammed Al-Saeedi, the Health Ministry’s director-general for Combating Chronic and Hereditary Diseases, said the test, made mandatory following reports of widespread drug use among Saudi youth, does not effectively address addiction.


“Conclusions about the test were reached by scientific committees and government departments,” he said.


Saudis account for over 54 percent of drug users in the Kingdom and drug addiction among women has increased by 20 percent during the past few years, according to a report. It states that 55 percent of drug addicts are between 19 and 30.


“This is a cause for major concern. The ministry has found that addicts tend to abstain from taking drugs prior to getting married so they can pass drug tests. Once married, however, they return to their drug addiction,” said Al-Saeedi.


He pointed out that the program was launched by the ministry in 2005.


More than 2.5 million addiction tests have been carried out so far within the framework of this initiative, he said.


He said that members of the public have responded favorably to the test, but that it fails to account for the loophole that many have resorted to using in order to pass the test.


Al-Saeedi said that the program is being run in 130 centers, 91 labs and 80 check-up clinics and is manned by 1,120 health care specialists.


“The program was founded as a preventive mechanism against chronic and hereditary diseases, which bear a heavy financial and emotional cost, ” he said.


“However, the program is succeeding in its mission with peoples’ cooperation,” said Al-Saeedi.


A study conducted by the Ministry of Interior indicated the existence of 204,000 male and female drug addicts in the Kingdom. Female addicts account for 20 percent of these cases.


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