Zaranj sets up its own drug rehab centre
ZARANJ (PAN): A newly set up rehabilitation centre set up in the provincial capital of southwestern Nimroz province has already cured 50 drug addicts and is currently treating another 165, including six Iranians.
The addicts were rounded up by police in Zaranj, the provincial capital, after Pajhwok Afghan News reported on Jan. 4 that several addicts died of cold weather and overdoses. The addicts had also been stealing from people’s homes in the city.
In total, 820 addicts were detained in Zaranj, but 600 were transferred to their home provinces. Those who were residents of Nimroz were sent to the rehabilitation centre in the Chagni area of the province.
The centre is funded by the governor’s office and local traders, Mohammad Anwar Muradi, head of Nimroz counternarcotics department, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
Food and medical care costs about $1,000 a day (45,000 afghanis), he said.
Most of the addicts are labourers who have returned from Iran.
Mohammad Reza, 30, a resident of Kung district of Nimroz, said he went to Iran with his family 10 years ago, where he became addicted to heroin.
When he returned to Nimroz about four years ago to visit relatives, he fell in with a gang of other drug addicts.
He said he lived in a graveyard in Zaranj with other addicts and stole from houses or begged to get money.
"I have been cured at the rehabilitation centre. I have given up heroin forever. I want to return to my family in Iran. The advice I give to others is to avoid getting involved with drugs or it will destroy your life.”
Saeed Khalil Shah Kazimi, an official at the rehabilitation centre, said every day, the addicts are checked by a team of doctors who come from Nimroz hospital.
In the first two weeks, they receive psychological counseling from a doctor and from a mullah. In the second stage, they receive injections to reduce the effects of the drug on their body.
After they have been treated, they are reunited with their families who are then responsible for ensuring their sons do not return to drugs.
There is another rehabilitation centre at Nimroz hospital which has rehabilitated 2,100 addicts, but it lacks beds, he said.
Many parents of former drug addicts are also happy about their children’s transformation.
Malang, 50, a resident of Char Burjak district, said, his son Rashid, 20, became addicted to heroin eight years ago, but was now cured after a stay at the rehabilitation centre.
"I am a welder, I locked up my son many times to try to force him to give up heroin, but it didn't work," Malang said.
Rashid said he had had a troubled time during his addiction. "My wife and I divorced last year, and she left our son with me. I could not look after him because of my addiction, and after six months, he died."
While he was sad at the death of his son, it confirmed to him how important life was.
"My bad friends got me addicted. From now on I will never return to drugs, even if it costs me my life."
As well as the Afghans, there are six Iranians also receiving treatment in the centre, Muradi, head of the Nimroz counternarcotics department, said.
The Iranians were rounded up with the Afghans because they did not have any official ID on them. They could return to their home country when the treatment is finished, he said.
Mahdi, 18, a resident of Mashhad province of Iran said: "I became addicted to crystal three years ago. I went to Zabul with some friends, but because I didn't have my identification card, police deported me to Zaranj city."
Crystal is said to be more harmful and more expensive than heroin.
Mahdi said that when he arrived in Nimroz, he met up with other addicts and smoked crystal, and then they were rounded up by police and taken to the rehabilitation centre.
He said they received medical care, food and were able to play some sports at the centre.
"I thank the Afghan government for the treatment," Mahdi said, adding he planned to return to Iran in two weeks.
Residents of Zaranj had complained that the addicts were stealing from their homes.
Abdul Karim Barahawi, the governor of Nimroz, said the addicts lived in ruined houses and cemeteries and acknowledged they were responsible for robberies and other crimes. That is why, he said, governmental and nongovernmental groups came up with a plan to keep the addicts at a rehabilitation centre.
According to Barahawi, theft had fallen in the city, which showed their plan was working.
He said the centre is being financed by the businessmen and the governor’s office, but they needed a budget from the government or international donors to continue.
Mullahs say the cultivation, purchase, selling and use of narcotics is forbidden in Islam.
Maulvi Saeed Nazir Ahmad Sadat, head of Hajj and Islamic affairs department in Nimroz, said the cultivation and use of drugs is unlawful and those who are addicted become a burden on their family and society.
He urged religious scholars to make it their duty to inform families about the dangers of drugs.
Dr. Noor Ahmad Shirzad, the head of Nimroz health department, said there were about 3,000 drug addicts registered in the province, but many more who had not come forward.
Most Afghan youths become addicted in Iran, where communal living, the work load or unemployment can lead to psychological difficulties, he added.
There are about one million addicts in Afghanistan, but treatment facilities for only about one percent of them.
Based on a survey done by UN Office of Drugs and Crime, there are 200 million addicts in the world, and one person dies every hour from drug addiction.
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