In the past few years, drug addiction has skyrocketed in Egypt, reaching over 9 million people, a staggering 10 percent of the country's population, according to Ghada Wali, Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity.
Wali's department issued a report in 2017 stating that almost 8 percent of high-school students abuse drugs, making the rate of drug abuse in Egypt twice the global rates.
In a TV interview with host Lamis al-Hadidy earlier this year, Wali commented on how the decrease in addiction among school bus drivers is not correlated to the general drop in the rate of drug usage, but rather that educational institutions are becoming more selective of who they choose as a driver.
Male bus drivers, who are known to take drugs to stay awake over longer, are no longer the majority of drug users; 27.5 percent are now women and 10 percent are kids within the age range of 12-19.
"The future of Egypt is in danger"
The drug epidemic in Egypt has become quite dangerous and a cause for national concern since the demographics have significantly changed.
"The percentage of people in Egypt that are under 35 make up around 40 percent of the population. If such a huge number of them are addicted, this means the future of Egypt is in danger," Amr Othman, head of the Egyptian Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Addiction, told Arab News.
Wali also noted that the painkiller Tramadol - which is illegal to consume without a prescription in Egypt - seemed to be the most commonly abused drug, followed by heroin at 26 percent, and cannabis at 23.3 percent.
Earlier this year, a British woman was pardoned from a three-year sentence in prison for smuggling 290 tablets of Tramadol to Egypt. Laura Plummer, who was detained in Egypt for three months before being released, arrived in the country in October to visit her Egyptian husband.
Possessing Tramadol without a prescription became a felony in Egypt in 2014 because of its affordability and strong effect. Since then, due to its increasing popularity on the black market, its price has allegedly skyrocketed.
The hotline has helped over 100,000 addicts since its launch
"The free addiction hotline 16023 received nearly 48,000 phone calls from January to June 2017, double the calls received in the same period last year," said Wali, who also chairs the Drug Control Fund, according to Ahram Online.
The hotline operates in over 10 districts across Egypt and has supported over 100,000 addicts since its launch. With the help of hospitals, the initiative provides free treatment and counseling sessions and has helped 37,244 addicts undergo necessary treatments.
In 2016, the Egyptian Center for Prevention and Treatment of Addiction released a nationwide campaign with actor Mohamed Ramadan
In a bid to reach a wider audience, the Egyptian Center for Prevention and Treatment of Addiction teamed up with celebrities to launch a visual campaign to combat the elevated use of drugs in the country.
In 2016, a video ad featuring Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan targeted the youth with one important message: "Say no to drugs".
Another campaign featured Liverpool footballer, Mohamed Salah, in 2017
In 2017, another ad under the same campaign starred non-other than well-loved Liverpool footballer, Mohamed Salah.
Showing the side effects of taking drugs, from ruining family relationships to letting go of life goals, not caving in to peer pressure was the main message behind the video.
It ended with Salah saying the intense words, "Choose life and do not give up. You're stronger than drugs".
Egypt ranked 25 out of 30 countries that consume cannabis the most
According to a report by The Telegraph in April 2017, Egypt was ranked 25th out of the 30 countries with the highest rate of cannabis consumption worldwide, with 6.24 of its population considered regular users of the substance.
Hash has been illegal in Egypt since the country signed the League of Nations’ Geneva International Convention on Narcotic Control in 1925.