Skip to content

Afghanistan’s growing number of child drug addicts

Raw Story

Two drug addicts sleep next to the Kabul River in Kabul on April 26, 2012. AFP FILE PHOTO

They play badminton, kick a ball around and huddle over computer games just like normal children.

Except that they are recovering drug addicts aged around three to 12, representing a growing proportion of drug users in war-torn Afghanistan.

In response, increasing numbers of rehabilitation centers are weaning such children off their addiction and giving them a new appetite for life in a country that produces 90 percent of the worlds opium used to make heroin.

While there are no statistics for kids, the rate of relapse is high for their parents, experts say.

For now two young girls, dressed in a blue uniform and playing badminton, and a group of boys playing football are all active and healthy ” the total opposite of when they arrived.

When I see them for the first time, the kids are depressed, unhappy. They dont play actively, they dont care about hygiene, said care assistant Massouma Khatima. Theyre like ghosts, added one of her colleagues.

The center, run by Afghan charity Wadan, which is partly funded by the United Nations, offers 25 children and 35 women the chance to get clean.

Those who suffer from diarrhea, constipation or headaches as a side effect from addiction are given medical treatment. More hardened addicts among the adults are treated with hydrotherapy ” in this case mostly cold showers.

Marwa, 10, is one of the girls, who has recently recovered.

Now she dares to dream of becoming an engineer, a fairly remote prospect for a girl from a poor community where few women are educated.

Ive been taking sleeping pills since I was a baby I was drowsy and feeling asleep. I always had headaches. I couldnt learn. My friends were learning faster. They were also laughing at me, calling me sleepy, she says.

Now, I feel better, but not completely OK. I feel I can learn to play, she adds.

Fazalwahid Tahiri, the centers administrator, says that in the eastern province of Nangarhar, sleeping pills can be mixed with milk for kids. But children are more commonly given a highly addictive broth made from opium, doled out as a remedy for flu and stomach aches.

Since opium is easily available, some dont even think of it as drug addiction. They use it as a pain killer, he said.

In Afghanistan, most children become addicts as a result of their parents ” passively inhaling their fathers opium smoke in the house, says Zarbadshah Jabarkhail, a doctor with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Or they are deliberately fed opium, for example by mothers who keep their children sedated while weaving carpets or harvesting opium crops, he says.

The root cause is poverty.

Its very usual. The majority of the families dont know about the side-effects of opium. They dont understand that if they give drugs to their children, they are also killing them at the same time, he said.

The proportion of children addicted has increased because we have more drug users and they are certainly affecting their children, said Jabarkhail.

The latest US State Department survey on drug use in Afghanistan says the number of adult drug users could exceed 1.3 million, out of an estimated population of up to 30 million, with nearly 300,000 children affected.

According to the UNODC, the number of drug users in Afghanistan grew by 53 percent from 2005 to 2010.

UN officials say there are just over 90 drug treatment centres across the country, treating 16,000 individuals, up from 40 centres in 2009, and that just over a third of the centres are for women and children.

Around 60 percent of the Afghan population are under 25 and 52 percent of the population is under 18 years old.

We are ignoring these people if we dont take care of them. These children are the future of their country. If they use drugs, they wont be useful to their country, said Jabarkhail.

Baspari, 28, and her five children aged from 10 months to 10 years old, are addicts.

She and her husband grow opium on their land, and she talks about the effect it can have: Sometimes they dance, sometimes they sleep for three days in a row.

I was given the same drugs when I was little. But when youre running out of money, and your kids need medicine, you dont have the choice, she said.

But from now on, she says, things will be different.

The doctors told me not to do it, so I wont use it again.

View the original article at Raw Story.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Posted in Health Care, War on terror.

Tagged with Afghanistan, Drugs, population, UN, United Nations.

Support #altnews & keep Dark Politricks alive

Any support to keep this site running would be much appreciated! If you see any adverts that interest you then please visit them as it helps me without you even needing to give me any money. A few clicks is all it takes to help keep the servers running and #altnews alive!

Please remember I have written hundreds of articles for this site and I host numerous amounts of material that has been taken offline by their original hosters which would be unavailable for viewing if it wasn't for this site. Therefore I would kindly ask you to help support me so that the site can continue doing what I think is an important job as well as reporting on stories the mainstream media would rather you didn't know about. I personally think it is important to host material such as removed reports that show that even FOX News once repoted on Israeli spy rings following the 9.11 hijackers before September 11th Or publishing the original Liberal Democrats Freedom Bill which was removed from their site once they enacted some watered down rubbish instead once they got into power.

However if you don't want to use the very obvious and cost free ways (to you) to help the site and keep me writing for it then please consider making a small donation, especially if you have a few quid sitting in your PayPal account doing nothing useful!

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.