Iran Activism Women's Rights

Statistics on Drug Addiction Amongst Iranian Women

Female addicts in Iran

By: Kamil Alboshoka

September 2018

Drug addiction is one of the biggest societal crises in Iran; although it’s more prevalent among men these figures are rising among women, particularly among the poor. As well as being harmful to the individual women, this addiction has a devastating effect on the lives of their families and children.

New statistics documenting addiction figures in Iran were recently published by the Iranian Centres that focus on humanities projects. DW pointed out that the levels of addiction among women and girls in Iran have increased, with the report stating that the trend of drug abuse among Iranian workers has become worrisome. [[i]]

In an interview with Iran’s ISNA News Agency, Hamid Reza Sarami, the Director General of the Drug Control Research and Training Office, said that 10-12 percent of Iran’s drug addicts are women. Sarami stated that “the prevalence of drug use in 9 provinces of the country is higher than the national average of 5.4 percent”. According to ISNA news agency, the provinces of al-Ahwaz (Khuzestan), Golestan, Chahramal & Bakhtiari, Kerman, Fars, North Khorasan, Kermanshah, Sistan, and Baluchistan have the highest rates of drug-use in Iran. [[ii]]

The ISNA News Agency reported that women who suffer from psychological and social disorders are 17 times more likely to use drugs than other women. The ISNA’s report also stated that women who use drugs are six times more likely to become addicts than men. Sarami also pointed out that increasing rates of drug abuse among Iranian women and girls also have other unpleasant consequences, such as an increase in drug use among pregnant women, which has led to around 7,500 babies in Iran being born addicted to drugs annually.

According to BBC Persian, the number of women dying as a result of drug use has also increased in recent years. While less than one percent of drug fatalities were women in 2010, by 2017 they accounted for around 12 percent of the total. In the last ten years, around 40,000 people have died from drug use in Iran, of which between 4,800- 5,000 were women. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has stated that Iran has the highest rate of deaths from drug use in the region. [iii]

Education levels of Iran’s female addicts

According to the ISNA’s report, 41 percent of the female addicts in Iran completed some form of higher education, with 17 percent having attained a Bachelor’s degree. Another 15 percent of the female addicts got their secondary school certificate, while 15 percent only finished primary school, and 9 percent have a Masters and Ph.D. Only 3 percent of the female addicts documented are wholly illiterate.

The ISNA report also revealed that 50% of the divorces in Iran are due to drug addiction, while 46% of those convicted of theft are drug addicts. These and other drug addicts make up 60% of the prisons’ population. Mohammad Ali Hamidian, the Deputy Head of the regime’s crime prevention Division in Sistan and Baluchistan (Baluchistan) province, said that many of those arrested for anti-social crimes in Iran are educated, but due to drug use they have committed crimes such as theft – among this number, he said, a large number of educated women are in prisons in Iran. [iv]

Rahim Hamid, a researcher on Iranian affair and director of Ahwaz Monitor, confirmed in an interview that the numbers of Iranian women suffering from drug-related problems have risen sharply in recent years, noting that more than one-third of Iran’s female addicts have university degrees. Hamid added that while women in Iran’s central cities and provinces have historically been more likely to use drugs, the Ahwazi Arab population in southwest Iran is now suffering more than other areas from drug-related problems.

Age category of female drug addicts in Iran

The primary reasons given by female drug-users for taking drugs were: for fun, curiosity, recreation, mental disorder, drug availability, and friends’ insistence, reduction of addiction symptoms, family disputes, and sexual problems.

Most female addicts in Iran are aged between 20 and 36 years of age, with 68 percent of addicts aged between 20 and 39 years: of this total, 62 percent are married. Zahra Banyanian, the Secretary-General of the Office for Combating Drugs for Women and Family Affairs, said that the highest number of female addicts for a single region of the country is in Kerman province. [v]

Another expert, Marzieh Farshad, the Director General of Welfare in Isfahan province, told the Mehr News Agency that female addicts will turn to intravenous drug use by hypodermic needles after an average of only two years while male addicts will take an average of eight years to start injecting themselves with drugs.  Farshad added that most of these women are aged between 25 and 35, with most in this age group turning to intravenous drug use after two years of using other methods such as smoking or snorting the drugs.

The most popular drug

Hamid Reza Sarami identified four patterns of drug use in Iran, adding that the introduction of new types of psychotropic drugs has reduced the consumption of opium and led to more people using marijuana and glass (Shisha).

According to official Iranian statistics, 53 to 55 percent of drug addicts in Iran use opium and more than 26 percent of addicts use glass (Shisha), with over 15 percent using are addicted to crack and cocaine. Around 12 percent also use cannabis and marijuana, whether in conjunction with other drugs or separately. The ISNA report states that there are around 126 women’s addiction treatment centers in the whole of Iran, which make up only 4.6% of the total number of treatment centers in the country, despite female addicts now accounting for 10 to 12 percent of the total number of drug addicts. [vi]

In his speech at the Social Work and Social Ethics conference, Sarami also revealed that 65 percent of domestic violence incidents, 55 percent of divorces, 30 percent of child abuse cases and 25 percent of premeditated killings are linked to addiction; he added that 23 percent of violent incidents and arguments, 20% of all crimes and 10% of finance-related crimes are also somehow related to drug use. [vii]

[[i]] DW, 24th February 2018:

[[ii]] ISNA, 25th February 2018:

[iii] BBC Persian, 29th April 2018:

[iv] ISNA, May 2018:

[v] Khabar Online, 25th January 2014:

[vi] DW, 24th February 2018:

[vii] ISNA, 16th April 2018:


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