Opium addiction in Afghanistan includes infants

Malaysia Sun
26th January 2011

Afghanistan is a major producer of the world’s opium and is facing an ever-increasing epidemic of drug use at home as well, with infants in some areas being given the drug, which is an unprocessed form of heroin.

In many rural parts of Afghanistan, such as the remote Balkh province, opium use has become an entrenched tradition and way of life, with almost all residents addicted to the drug.

CNN visited a woman called Aziza, whose entire extended family is addicted to opium. Aziza feeds her four-year-old son pure opium to help him sleep, while her elderly mother-in-law takes it to ease her aches and pains.

With little education available, the health risks and the intense addictive nature of opium use are virtually unknown, leading to a cycle of drug abuse that is passed down through the generations.

“We give the children opium whenever they get sick,” Aziza says.

“We are very poor people, so I used opium. We don’t have anything to eat. That is why we have to work and use drugs to keep our kids quiet,” Aziza’s mother-in-law defends herself when asked about her drug use.

Part of the problem is also the total lack of government medical support, let alone rehabilitation centres. The nearest drug rehabilitation facility is a four and a half hour car ride away and contains just twenty beds.

“People use opium as drugs or medicine. If a child cries, they give him opium, if they can’t sleep, they use opium, if an infant coughs, they give them opium,” says Dr. Mohamed Daoud Rated, coordinator of the center.

Around 1 million Afghans are believed to be addicted to opium, which is used to process heroin and forms part of the lifeblood of the country’s economy, even though it is produced and exported illicitly.

H/T Michael Yon on Facebook:

When children are wounded in Afghanistan, they seldom cry. Maybe they are doped up on narcotics. I don’t know.

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