Substance Related and Addiction Disorders

Substance misuse is not a personality or character problem; it is a health related problem. Substance use disorder (SUD) refers to a chronic and relapsing brain disease in which an individual continues the use of substance despite its harmful consequences and spends most of the time seeking the substance. When the desired substance is not available, the individual starts having some signs and symptoms of craving and withdrawal that is a clear indication of dependence. Addiction causes metabolic changes in the brain. Genetic factors, environmental factors and life styles are important etiological factors of ADDICTION.

Globally, 1 in every 12th individual had history of illicit substance use. In Pakistan, about 8.9 million of people are affected and every year this challenging condition is increasing drastically.



Statistics of Substance Use Disorder in Pakistan

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Pakistan. About 3.6 % of the adult population or four million people are listed as cannabis users.

The use of opiates is higher than the global estimates in Pakistan. Among opiates, heroine and opium are used by one percent of drug users.

8 % Adults or 4.6 million people use drugs in 2013 in Pakistan.

According to an estimate, about 8.9 million people in Pakistan are drug dependent and only 30,000 individuals annually receive treatment due to short supply of treatment and special interventions.

Nationwide, there is a high prevalence of non-medical use of prescribed medicines (opioid-based painkillers, and to a lesser extent tranquillizers and sedatives) particularly among women.

Certificate in Management of Substance Use Disorder

Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning in collaboration with Manchester Global Foundation, UK has developed a certificate course in Management of Substance Use Disorder for professionals who want to persue in the field of Addictionology.

The aim of this course is to enable general practitioners, nurses, social workers and community health workers etc. to recognize, screen and provide basic physical and psychological help to people suffering from SUD.

The first batch of this program from October 2019- March-2020 has included a group of 9 health professionals (Psychologists, psychiatrists and general practitioners) who have passed the exam successfully.

According to program participants, this program will lead to improved knowledge and skills in health and social care settings that will strengthen workforce in this specialty.

Gallery of Certificate Program

Visit PILL Admissions & Programs for more details

CAMIAB Study for Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Keeping in view the increased prevalence and scarcity of psychological treatment options for SUD, Pakistan Institute of living and learning, is conducting a study that aims to:

  1. a) Culturally adapt an existing CBT based Motivational Interviewing and Mindfulness intervention for substance misuse in Pakistan.
  2. b) Test the feasibility and acceptability of the culturally adapted MI-CBT (CAMIAB) intervention in a randomized control trial (RCT).

The study will include both male and female of age 18 and above with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Recruitment of participants will take place from primary care and volunteer organizations / drug rehabilitation centers in Karachi and Lahore Pakistan. The study has been approved from National Bioethics Committee (NBC) Pakistan (Ref no. 4-87/NBC-467/20/47)

CBT involves numerous treatment elements including motivational and cognitive elements and skill building interventions. It has shown excellent effectiveness in treatment of substance misuse both as a mono-therapy and as combination of treatments. Motivational interviewing is a promising option to enhance engagement and adherence whereas, mindfulness based relapse prevention (MBRP) reduces the risk and severity of relapse by enabling individuals to cope with cravings. There is little research as well as availability of these evidence-based treatments in Pakistan.


For further information on project please contact us:

Project Lead: Muqaddas Asif
Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning

Trainings and Workshops on Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Workshop on Addictive Behaviour in Global Perspective

Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) in collaboration with Centre for Clinical Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore Pakistan organized a one-day workshop on Addictive Behaviour in Global Perspective.

Dr. Iqbal Naeem, from Lancashire, UK facilitated the workshop. BS and MS students of University of the Punjab, Lahore participated in the workshop.

Self-harm and suicide among Substance users

Dr. Joseph Meagher, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Leads for Addictions at University of Leeds and international collaborator of Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) visited Lahore, Pakistan in July 2018.

Dr. Joseph Meagher delivered a workshop on Self-harm and suicide among Substance users at Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development that was organized in collaboration with Dr. Noor-ul-Zaman. Nearly 28 Addiction professionals attended the workshop and shared different case histories of self-harm and suicide among substance users in Pakistan.

Visit to Sadaqat Clinic Lahore

Dr. Joseph, Dr. Mehar Husain and Ms. Muqaddas Asif visited Willing Ways Lahore, met with Dr. Sadaqat (Director of Willing Ways) and team. The purpose of the visit was to develop collaborations for capacity building of health professionals working with patient of SUD. During their visit, Dr. Sadaqat briefed about their journey from Sadaqat clinic to Willing Ways.  They invited Dr. Joseph and Dr. Mehar Husain for a live interview at YouTube.

Dr. Meher Husain shared her remarks about difference in Addiction Rehabilitation setup in Pakistan and UK. 

Dr Joseph said that PILL is primarily focused on Research with a potential of significant social change”.

Drug Addiction Recovery Symposium 2018

Treatment works Recovery is possible. Recovery symposium organized by Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development (PFRD) in collaboration with Colombo Plan, Anti-Narcotics Control– ANF and Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL).

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Public Awareness Messages & Recommendations for Prevention of Substance Misuse