More recently, Middle Eastern conflicts have seen an increase in the rise of Captagon, an amphetamine that is allegedly fuelling Syria’s civil war. Last November, 11 million pills were seized by Turkish officials at the Syrian-Turkish border, while this April 1.5 million were seized in Kuwait. In a BBC documentary called Syria’s War Drug from September 2015, one user is quoted as saying: “There was no fear any more when I took Captagon. You can’t sleep or close your eyes, forget about it.”
Ramzi Haddad is a Lebanese psychiatrist and cofounder of an addiction centre called Skoun. He explains that Captagon, “which is made in Syria”, has been around “for a long time – over 40 years”.
“I have seen the effects the drug has on people. Here it is getting more popular in the refugee camps filled with Syrian refugees. People can buy it from drug dealers for a couple of dollars, so it’s a lot cheaper than cocaine or ecstasy,” Haddad says. “In the short term it makes people feel euphoric and fearless and makes them sleep less – perfect for wartime fighting, but in the long term it brings on psychosis, paranoia and cardiovascular side effects.”