In Daikundi, population of drug addicts rises
NEILI (Pajhwok): A resident of central Daikundi province, Mirza Hussain, travelled to Iran for work some years back, but returned as drug addict. Instead of supporting his family, he has become a burden.
Narrating his ordeal, Hussain told Pajhwok Afghan News he worked in an Iranian steel mill, whose owner provided him opium to work extra hours. With the passage of time, he sobbed: “I grew into a chronic addict.”
The youth complained: “Nobody tries to appreciate my predicament, much less empathise with me. Just like the entire society, my only daughter has rejected me; no one talks to me in a decent manner.”
He lamented his own daughter taunted as a dead man and told the neighbourhood people that her father had passed away several years ago.
But despite his isolation and the many odds he is up against, Hussain remains hopeful about his rehabilitation. “I have been under treatment at a rehabilitation clinic in Neili, the provincial capital.”
Dr. Suhrab Haidari, in charge of the facility, said they lacked beds and equipment.
Seven years back, around 113 drug addicts were hospitalised, but the currently number is 80.
He explained more than 1,000 addicts had registered for treatment, but many of them were on the waiting list. The clinic has rehabilitated 950 addicts, including women and children, since its inception.
Haidari linked drug addiction to joblessness, inadequate awareness and family inattention. He said heroin was the most widely used drug. Clinical treatment is effective but the rehabilitated individuals tended to relapse because of joblessness, poverty and insecurity.
Another major problem is low capacity of the clinic, according to the official, who called for the creation of a rehabilitation centre in Daikundi province because the 20-bed clinic could not treat all addicts.
Daikundi has been declared a poppy-free province, but local officials expressed concern over the increasing number of drug users.
Counternarcotics Director Mohammad Daud Maroof said no credible and comprehensive survey had been carried out on the current number of drug addicts in Daikundi.
A survey conducted in 2007 by the US Embassy showed 25,000 people were addicted to drugs in Daikundi. Maroof said they lacked funds for conducting a new survey but the number of the addicts was increasing in the province, which borders with Helmand and Uruzgan.
He claimed no farmer had cultivated poppies in the province and that was why the budget allocated for counternarcotics activities was spent on other development projects.
Public awareness programmes, such as television dramas, were underway to discourage the use of drugs, he continued.
Some people asked the government to take action and treat the addicts as soon as possible because some of drug users were involved in robbery cases.
Mohammad Ali, a Neili resident, said once he went to the local market on his newly-bought motorbike. But when he returned, the bike was not where it had been parked.
“Some time back the addicts had been to my neighbour’s house and had stolen their hens. Now they have stolen my motorcycle. They will sell it at a thruway price to buy drugs,” he remarked.
Civil society members opine the government is not paying ample attention to the addicts, which is why their number is increasing.
Sher Mohammad Entezar, a civil society activist, said major reasons behind these people getting addicted were immigration, unemployment and lack of communications with family members.
“The addicts are not criminals. Criminals are those who produce and smuggle drugs,” he observed.
Sher Mohammad was unclear about the drug supply sources. And if drugs were smuggled to Daikundi, he asked why the government did not stop it?
Figures released by the ministry concerned indicate that more than a million individuals in Afghanistan are addicted to drugs.
Earlier, there were 50 rehabilitation centres across the country and now the figure has jumped to 160. At least 97% of addicts in Afghanistan do not get the opportunity of rehabilitation, with many dying on roads.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.