Afghanistan has nearly 1 million female drug users, admits government

Afghanistan has nearly 1 million female drug users, admits government
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Laila Haidari, a volunteer from Bamyan province in central Afghanistan, was forced to close down her rehabilitation center by drug dealers and smugglers. (Photo: Via Social media)
Afghanistan has nearly 1 million female drug users, admits government
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On Sunday, March 11, 2018, the Ministry of Health in Kabul said that the country has nearly one million female narcotics users or addicts. (Photo: Via Social media)
Updated 13 March 2018

Afghanistan has nearly 1 million female drug users, admits government

Afghanistan has nearly 1 million female drug users, admits government

KABUL: Laila Haidari, a volunteer from Bamyan province in central Afghanistan, helps to treat female drug addicts in Kabul. She used to spend what she earned from her restaurant and carpet factory on addicts.
“The majority of the children of women we treated were also addicts. These women had turned to drugs because of poverty, violence and war, and wanted to forget daily grief by using drugs, without knowing that the drugs will bring them lifetime calamity,” Haidari said.
In 2013, she opened the 'Mother Camp' center to help children and women struggling with drug abuse, but she had to shut it down the same year after she received threats. “I was threatened by dealers and smugglers by phone,” she said.
Haidari at that time had another center for men. She said that her center treated 4,000 men addicts: 1,000 of these resumed normal life and gave up their addition for good, which did not sit well with the smugglers and drug dealers.
She said the government had not helped to protect her against the threats. “The government isn’t after the main dealers,” she said. “Drugs have become a lucrative business for some people, even within the Afghan administration.”
Opium cultivation and the use of drugs have become widespread in Afghanistan in recent years, despite an anti-narcotics drive costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
On Sunday, the government said that there are nearly 1 million female narcotics-users or addicts in Afghanistan, a legacy of war, poverty and social disorder.
A survey conducted mostly in rural areas in 2015 showed that about 3.6 million people either consumed drugs, were addicts or were directly affected, officials at the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics said.
“Based on the survey, 1 million of the users were boys and girls under the age of 18, while some 850,000 were women,” the ministry’s chief spokesman Mohammad Haneef Daneshyar told Arab News.
There has been a rise in the number of drug-users since the survey. He said Afghanistan produced 9,000 tons of poppy last year, which is refined into opium then turned into heroin.
The ministry said that it did not know how much hashish was produced annually in the country. It has launched an intensive campaign to prevent the spread of addiction and expand its rehabilitation centers, Daneshyar said.
“Its treatment is complex. Some don’t receive the necessary support and love in society and from their families after rehabilitation, and there you see a relapse,” he said.
Haidari said the government’s push to treat addicts is mostly symbolic and ineffective. “The government arrests addicts, herds them into buses and takes them to rehabilitation centers. Except for a few, many resume their addiction because … you need psychologists to help them give up their addiction rather than force them,” she said.
Lawmaker Nazifa Zaki said some donor money targeted to treat addiction was squandered due to corruption.
“In some areas, you see an entire family becoming addicted to drugs,” she told Arab News. “Drug addiction is far more dangerous than a suicide attack, because addiction passes from one generation to another.”