Drug Addiction in Families Trapping Afghan Children in a Vicious Circle

In Badakhshan Province, there are an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 drug addicts. As in other places, addiction tends to run in families.

Jan Begum’s family is one of them. They live in Faizabad City. Both sons and husband are addicted. They used methamphetamine and heroin.

“We have nothing left. Both husband and son are both unemployed, father is addict, son is also addict. My eldest son is not here. He’s been missing for three years. I don’t know if he’s still alive or dead,” Jan Begum told FLY.

A 37-year-old farmer, Mohaiyudeen, shows off a packet of opium after harvesting it from his poppy field in Surkh-Rod district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 28, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

A 37-year-old farmer, Mohaiyudeen, shows off a packet of opium after harvesting it from his poppy field in Surkh-Rod district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, June 28, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

“There are four in our family, and all four of us are addicts. Yes, we sell everything. We sell bed sheets and everything we own. And with that money, we buy drugs and use them,” he continued.

Jan Begum’s family used to live in a house in Faizabad. When the homeowner found out that his family was using drugs, the homeowner kicked them out.

Now, they beg, become laundry workers, and spend most of their income on drugs. They had been treated several times for addiction, but then relapsed.

Samiullah, 18 years, drugs with his mother, father and brother.

The process of obtaining opium, in a village outside Balkh province, about 500 km north of Kabul.  (Photo: Reuters)

The process of obtaining opium, in a village outside Balkh province, about 500 km north of Kabul. (Photo: Reuters)

“I used drugs since I was little. I eat it with my parents. I went out looking for drugs and then I took them. I hope the government will come and treat us. I want to work as a waitress in a hotel,” she said.

Afghanistan remains the world’s largest opium producer.

In Nangahar Province, children and youth work in the poppy fields collecting opium with their parents. They help in the production of opium.

16-year-old Mustafa is one of the youths who work in the opium field. He said he started to become addicted over a long time, because he worked in the opium field.

“Well, it’s narcotics, it makes us drunk. When we collect, we inhale, and it makes us dizzy, makes us drunk, and then we either sit down or go home with excuses to relax. It had a bad effect,” he said.

“I had a headache when I went to school. I got permission to go home. Opium has a very bad effect because it makes our heads spin, we are drunk. Opium causes such conditions in our bodies,” Mustafa continued.

To FLY, he shows some of this year’s poppy crop. Several kilograms of opium have been harvested from the fields. He said that after the opium was harvested, the opium was sold and he kept two kilograms to sell later.

When the poppy harvest season ended, he worked in the fields for other crops such as onions.

Mustafa said he had seen many people, including women, become addicted to drugs after working in the opium fields. He himself didn’t want to be an addict.

“If there were no narcotics planted here, perhaps no one would become addicted to drugs. Opium makes many people addicted. We want the government to stop growing opium. The government should help us plant good fruit trees,” he said.

Less opium production means less drug addiction, and fewer drug addicts dying, a sad and shameful death, in a country where nothing is more important than family, honor and tradition.

Before withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, the United States pledged to continue to support the country’s efforts to reduce drug trafficking. [lt/jm]

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