Afghanistan: Drug Addiction Tough to Beat in Kabul
Not only is Afghanistan a center of opium production, it has one of the world’s most serious drug addiction problems. An estimated 1 million Afghans, out of a total population of 28 million, are battling substance abuse. For some, the Wadan Drug Rehabilitation Center in Kabul offers the last chance to kick a drug habit.
Costing about a dollar a day to support a habit, poppy-related products are relatively affordable for Afghans. Many smoke the drug, although some women put it into tea as a way to combat depression or sickness. Addiction is a particular problem for the chronically unemployed.
The Wadan facility is one of only three rehab centers in Kabul. It uses a four-part program lasting 45 days, with out-patient follow-up available after that. Religion is one of the four elements in the program, along with education, physical activity and family therapy.
Doctor Zebullah, who has worked at the Wadan center for 19 years and is the current director, laments that there is a high frequency of relapses. Even model patients are prone to slipping back into addiction. Mohammed Edris was one such patient, having ended his first four-week rehab stint as a team leader/mentor. After his release, however, Edris could not find a job. He subsequently went to Kandahar, where he began using opium again. Three months later he was back in Kabul in another rehabilitation program, weighing only 120 lbs.
“When I got here they couldn’t find a vein for the IV," he said. "I said give it to me, and I got it in instantly.”
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