In Iran, alcohol is illegal and punishable by up to 80 lashes, but that hasn’t stopped either a black market or serious drinking problems from developing within the country. According to the International Business Times, Iranian authorities have recently announced plans to open 150 alcohol treatment centers across the country, a surprising nod of acknowledgment towards the growing issue of alcohol abuse in Iran.
Currently, Iran has just one detoxification center, which opened in Tehran in 2013, though many believe that fear of punishment and flogging has kept many alcoholics from coming forward and seeking treatment.
Alireza Norouzi, head of the ministry’s drug abuse department, told the ISNA News Agency that the new centers will provide “special settings” to help individuals kick their alcohol habit, as well as educational courses. Six of the centers set to open in March will also provide in-patient detoxification.
Alcohol has been banned in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Since then, authorities have largely been in denial over problems with alcohol abuse in the country, although some officials have criticized the attempts to bury data and ignore the truth. Police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moqaddam told the BBC: “There have always been attempts to conceal alcohol-related problems in the country, but alcohol consumption and an increase in alcoholism are facts.”
Ahmadi-Moqaddam estimates that there are 200,000 alcoholics in Iran, though others, like Marjan Namazi of the University of Tehran, believe the problem could be much worse. [International Business Times][Photo: Flickr/Matt Baran]