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Stigma can cause addiction-related health issues to go unnoticed in UAE, say experts

Health issues related to addiction remain a blind-spot in some communities due to continuing stigmas surrounding drugs and alcohol, experts have said. Speaking at the Public Health Forum of the Arab Health Congress in Dubai, doctors working in the field of addiction said that while some patients struggle to access help, knowledge and acceptance of addiction as a genuine health concern has vastly improved in the last 15 years.

“For so many reasons this subject is taboo in the community,” said Dr Ali Al Marzooqi, director of public health and research development at the National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi. “Because of our culture and religious values, many think this problem of addiction does not exist.

“It exists in every single country and the burden here in our region is probably the same as in the US. “If President Trump claims it is an epidemic and an emergency issue, it is the same in the Middle East.” Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry system.