Afghanis Combat Opium Dependency
- Combating Dependency in Afghanistan
The Rise and Response to Opium Dependency in Afghanistan
For many people in Afghanistan without access to healthcare, opium
is often the only means they haveto control pain. However, there is
now a massive culture of dependency throughout the country, creating
serious social, economic and health effects on those who are
addicted as well as their families and communities. Islamic Relief
has opened a new health center in northern Afghanistan to treat
dependency, giving people a chance to combat their addiction and
begin a new life.
Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium and heroin; a
rising number of Afghans are also becoming dependent on the drug.
One of the provinces most severely affected is Balkh in northern
Afghanistan. Here, opium is often traded like tea and is largely
considered to be a medicine rather than a dangerous drug.
Many of the people dependent on opium in Balkh are women who use it
to dull the pain caused by working for many hours on heavy weaving
looms. However, the dependency is affecting their health,
livelihoods and ability to care for their children. In order to
tackle this problem, Islamic Relief has been working in partnership
with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and has
established a Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, in northern
Balkh's Shortepa District that provides counseling, detoxification
services, and medical care.
After living in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan for 15 years, 42-
year-old Taza Gul, along with her husband and children, returned to
their native Afghanistan in 2001 hoping for a fresh start in life.
They returned home with nothing, except the food package they
received from the United Nations, and had to stay with relatives for
a few months before getting their own two-roomed house in a small
village in Shortepa. Unfortunately, Taza Gul, a patient at Islamic
Relief 's drug center in Shortepa, is just one of the many number of
women who are dependent on drugs in Afghanistan. She suffers from
many medical and psychological problems. She often feels suicidal,
blames herself for her children's addiction to opium and considers
herself unable to care for them.
"I gave birth to 11 daughters and sons but unfortunately six of them
have passed away," said Taza Gul. "In my last unsafe delivery I gave
birth to twin male babies with the support of an inexperienced,
traditional birth attendant. I suffered severe problems after the
birth and became seriously sick with continuous, intolerable pain."
"As the time passed, my problem got so complicated and the pain
became tremendously agonizing, that I started crying all day and
night. This is when I was advised by an addict to use the opium for
pain relief. I found it relaxed me and got rid of my pain and I
didn't have any other access to painkillers because there was no
health center here at the time," she continued.
"None of my other family members ever advised me to stop. My
husband, two young sons and many other close relativesalso use the
"The health of my twin babies was very bad. They looked so weak and
pale because we could not afford to give them enough food or
healthcare. He deteriorated so badly that he died when he was only
eight months old."
Determined to Change
"This event has deeply touched my senses and I am now determined to
give more time to the surviving twin and to save his life. I started
working hard with my husband on our small home farm and tried to get
laboring work where I could, but I found it difficult to leave my
child at home as he used to cry when I was not there," Taza
"Unfortunately I took the advice of another neighbor who told me to
give my child some of the same ghost (opium) to relax him so I could
go out to work. Many other mothers also do this. It is the decision
between staying at home and having no money or to calm my sons with
the drug so I can earn money for their food. I made the wrong
decision and gave him the drug so I could go and work. "
"I am sad not only because I am an addict but because I don't know
what the future of my sons will be. They have never been to school
and have no interest in going. I wish me and my family could give
the drug up and I am hopeful that the treatment I am receiving will
Islamic Relief's Work
Islamic Relief 's drug treatment and rehabilitation center in
Shortepa provides residential care as well as in home support,
including counseling, detoxification, advice and regular follow-ups
to check patients' progress. This is part of a general health clinic
that provides over 7,500 people with basic health care including
prenatal and post-natal care. The staff also carries out educational
awareness-raising sessions concerning the harmful effects of drug
use within the local communities.
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW
Need some good karma? Appreciate the service?
Please consider donating to WVNS today.
Email ummyakoub@... for instructions.
To leave this list, send an email to: