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May Wilkerson May Wilkerson

“Alcohol-Free” Iran Opens Its First Alcoholism Rehab


Iranians can be flogged for drinking alcohol. Now, the option for treatment will also be available.

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Alcohol is illegal for Muslims in Iran, in accordance with Islamic law. Those who break the law may be punished by flogging, as well as possibly facing fines and up to a year of jail time. Though the country’s small number of Christians and Jews are permitted to drink, they are banned from selling alcohol to Muslims.

However—much like certain drug laws in the US—Iran’s no-alcohol law is one that many don’t follow. There are no official statistics on how many people drink in Iran, though earlier this year, a medical toxicologist claimed it’s “more than a million.” And last year, Iran’s police chief estimated that 200,000 people in the country are addicted to alcohol (if both these stats are true, then one-in-five Iranian drinkers is an alcoholic! That’s a higher rate of alcoholism than Russia).

But however many alcoholics there may be, at least some of them will now be able to seek treatment. According to the ISNA news agency, the country has opened its first state-run treatment center for alcoholics, on the heels of “an increase in alcohol use” by Iranians. The center was reportedly inaugurated in at the University of Tehran Medical Center.

Iran, which lies on a major trafficking route between Afghanistan and Europe, is also home to an estimated 1.3 million drug addicts, many of whom are addicted to opium. The country has also faced a rising problem with crystal meth in recent years.