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Number of addicts in Parwan doubles

Number of addicts in Parwan doubles

Mar 29, 2011 - 09:55

CHARIKARinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The number of drug addicts in central Parwan province has doubled over the past year due to a lack of treatment centres and counternarcotic officials to stem the drug trade, officials said.

There are no rehabilitation centres in Parwan, so addicts must travel to Kabulinfo-icon or other parts of the country for help.

A year ago, there were around 500 addicts, but now the number has doubled to about 1,000, Sher Aqa Talash, head of counternarcotics in Parwan, said, citing village elders. Most are addicted to opium, hashish and heroin, he said.

Talash said he had no statistics for the number of womeninfo-icon who are addicted. The province has a population of about 600,000 people.

Poverty, unemployment and a lack of counternarcotics personnel are the biggest factors contributing to the increase drug addiction, he said.

“We cannot stop the drug trafficking due to a lack of counternarcotics personnel.”

Col. Abdul Wahid Hashimi, counternarcotics manager in Parwan, said they needed another 50 dedicated policemen to prevent drugs flooding the province.

Opium and hashish are not produced in Parwan, and the drugs are smuggled from other provinces, the colonel added. Counternarcotics police were needed at the district and province borders, he said.

Khwaja Ruholllah Seddiqi, the deputy of Parwan provincial council, confirmed there had been a rise in the number of drug addicts.  Most of them are in the provincial capital, Charikar, as well as in Saeedkhail, Bagram, Gulbahar and Jabal Saraj districts.

Mohammad Malang, 35, a resident of Myan Guzar village of Jabal Saraj district, became addicted to heroin two years ago.

“I was jobless and my friend introduced me to drugs,” said Malang, his pale, skinny frame giving away his addiction.

His wife and sons threw him out of his home six months ago and now he lives in the park and sleeps under a bridge.

Malang said he wanted to be treated and to recover, but there were no clinics in the province.

Another drug addict, Shahin, 35, said he buys a bag of opium for 300 afghanis ($6.5) from shops and houses. The venues change regularly, but all the buyers know where to go, he explained.

Dr. Zekira, head of the Afghan Red Crescent Societyinfo-icon in Parwan, said they ran a rehabilitation centre in Parwan, but due to lack of funds, they had to close it down. The 20-bed clinic treated about 500 addicts in its two years of work, he said.

A number of local and foreign groups also used to support treatment clinics for addicts, but for some reason they too stopped their assistance, he added.  

The Red Crescent wants to reopen the clinic, but Zekira could not give a specific date for when that would happen.

Dr. Mohammad Qasim Saeedi, head of Parwan’s public healthinfo-icon department, said the government would also invest in rehabilitating drug addicts.

They plan to build a 20-bed drug treatment centre in Parwan, he said, without specifying a time. The proposal and the plans are ready, but they are just waiting for the money, he said.

Residents of Charikar say the crime rate has increased because of the rising number of drug addicts.

“If the door of a house is left open, addicts steal whatever they can,” Mohammad Shafiq Mushfiq said.

The counternarcotics police in Parwan say they are taking steps to stop drug dealers.

“We have detained 30 drug dealers and their shops were closed,” Col. Abdul Wahid Hashimi, head of the department, said. Some of the cases already have been referred to the Attorney General’s office.   

The police will train more people to cope with the problem, he said.

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