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Population of Nimroz drug addicts reaches 13,000

Health

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Population of Nimroz drug addicts reaches 13,000

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Jan 14, 2018 - 19:21

ZARANJ (Pajhwok): Officials in southwestern Nimroz province say the population of drug addicts has jumped from 11,000 to 13,000 in a span of one year in the province—with most of them returning from neighboring countries.

Figures obtained by Pajhwok Afghan News show the number of drug addicts hovered between 10000 and 11000 last year against their current estimated strength of 13,000 individuals. Officials cite easy access to drugs in Zaranj city, the provincial capital, and lack of concrete steps to cure the addicts as reasons behind the increasing drug addicts.

Officials at the provincial Public Healthinfo-icon Department say the population of drug addicts is increasing day by day in the province.

Dr. Sayed Khaili Kazimi, rehabilitation centers in-charge at the department, said although no exact survey to assess the number of addicts had been conducted, their number was estimated to be between 12,000 and 13,000.

He said many of the addicts had developed the habit of using drugs during their stay in foreign countries for work.  He said pressure of work, psychological stress, existence of junkies in large numbers and trouble-free access to narcotics in working areas were some of the key factors that resulted in the increased number of addicts.

Currently, two rehabilitation centres are operational in Zaranj city,  one for treating womeninfo-icon and the other for men. There are 31 female  and 51 male addicts in the two facilities. “Every patient becomes healthy after undergoing a 45-day treatment and is then handed over to relevant family.”

The health official went on to say that as many as 3,000 women and 8,000 men had been so far rehabilitated and delivered to families in the province; however some of them again returned to the old habit.

According to the public health department, about 80 percent of addicts in the province were workers who had returned from abroad after slipping into addiction there due to various reasons.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Ali, acting head for the counter-narcotics department, told Pajhwok nearly half the addicts 5,000 were homeless and street wanderers.

An addict wandering in streets, Faiz Ahmad, while introducing himself, said he hailed from Takhar province and had spent 12 years working in Iran. “I started using drugs due to work pressures and longing for home in Afghanistaninfo-icon. I was recently deported but now I live in Nimroz far away from my home.”

“I spend my day and night begging and lying near roads because I don’t have money to go back home. Sometimes people help me by giving money and at times they don’t.”

However, some residents of Zarang complained about house robberies carried out by addicts. Ahmad, a resident of Zaranj city, said drugs were openly consumed in every corner of the city and there was no one to collect the addicts for treatment.

“The issue is that no one can leave homes’ doors open; otherwise addicts come and steal stuff. Even they cut aluminum and copper wires of power supply and sell them to obtain drugs.”

Mohammad Omari, provincial police spokesman, however, said addicts were always being gathered by police in the city and then handed over to the health department and the Haji Nazir Nazari Health Centre.

He added this month alone police raided at least 12 places where drugs were sold and shut down them and a number of individuals detained. “The detainees’ cases are referred to judicial organs.”

Security officials in Nimroz say a large number of people have been arrested in connection with cultivation, smuggling, purchase and sale of drugs. However, they didn’t provide exact figures.

Based on figures from the ministries of public health and counter-narcotics, more than 3.5 million people take drugs in the country, including over 30 percent of them women and children.

sns/ma

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