Egypt has between 2.5 and 3.25 million drug addicts, most of them illiterate or unskilled workers, says Egypt's health ministry, as reported by Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.
In a speech marking the international day to fight addiction, Health Minister Adel El-Adawi said that addiction rates in the country are inversely related to education. For example, 10 percent of illiterates are addicted, compared to only 2.5 percent of university graduates.
The numbers are similar for professions: more traders and workers are addicted, 11 and 9.4 percent respectively, than those with specialised careers, 2.5 percent.
A demographic middle-aged group was the most exposed to addiction, according to findings from the National Research Unit of Mental Health, which provided the figures for the minister's speech.
Cairo ranks highest in terms of addiction rates, followed by Upper Egyptian cities, with the Nile Delta coming last.
El-Adawi said that 16 mental health hospitals nationwide plus a psychiatry centre have provided 500 beds for addicts to undergo treatment since May. Another 57,000 patients have visited the clinics of national hospitals.
Special units for treating women and teenagers have also been created, he said.
Figures also show a link between smoking and drug use, he said, adding that a programme is already underway to eliminate smoking through the media and controlling tobacco farming.