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In Pictures: Life of a Nepali drug addict
Ineffective governance and the availability of a cheap cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs contribute to a growing crisis.
Last updated: 13 Aug 2014 10:44
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Kathmandu, Nepal - An ineffectual government, a broken economy with few jobs to offer, and low-quality education, have all contributed to the Nepal's escalating drug crisis.

The country's drug problem started in the 1960s and 1970s when Nepal became the destination of choice for a generation of freedom-seeking Westerners looking to escape the restrictions in their own countries. At that time, Nepal - where marijuana plants grow wild in the countryside and are as tall as a two-story building - fit their criteria: an abundance of cheap drugs, a low cost of living, and an uninterested legal system.

But as their cash reserves dwindled, some found alternate means to fund their carefree lifestyle by smuggling heroin from Southeast Asia’s golden triangle across Nepal’s porous border.

And while the Nepalese government eventually banned the legal sale of marijuana products and the foreigners mostly drifted away, the legacy of the hard drugs they introduced remained.

"When the hippies left, the drugs stayed," Rajendra Shrestha, the head psychologist at one of Nepal’s oldest drug rehabilitation facilities, Freedom Centre, told Al Jazeera.

Eight years ago, 28 year-old Sujin Shrestha started experimenting with hash and pills, before moving on to the more visceral high of heroin, which he smoked and later injected.

When the prices of heroin rose to unaffordable levels, Sujin, like many young Nepalis, switched to the "Nepali cocktail", a mixture of pharmaceutical drugs blended in a syringe and shot directly into the bloodstream, often via the groin. The Nepali cocktail produces a high that can last a novice user 24 hours.

By the time Sujin realized he was addicted, it was too late. He lost his job as a bronze sculptor, found himself stigmatized by his community, was left as the sole provider for his epileptic mother, and had a $70 per day habit - well beyond his means. In an attempt to distance himself from the drug scene of Kathmandu, Sujin applied for a student visa in the UK, but was rejected when unable to provide proof of financial support. He turned to dealing drugs, which allowed him to both feed his cravings and purchase medicine and food for his mother, but left him hopelessly entangled in his addiction.

Tens of thousands of Nepali youth face similar prospects. For-profit rehabilitation facilities have been largely ineffective in curbing the problem.

Without decisive government involvement and a revamping of the rehabilitation process, more and more young Nepalis are likely to fall into the same trap as Sujin - unable to break out of the toxic cycle.

Follow Luc Forsyth on Twitter: @LucForsyth


/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin Shresthra, 28, checks his phone immediately upon waking up. He has been using drugs since he was 20 years old and is now heavily addicted to a blend of three pharmaceuticals, known locally as a "Nepali cocktail", which he injects three to four times per day.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Referred to as "hunting", the search for drugs takes up most of Sujin's day and he is constantly on his mobile phone, either talking to dealers to sell him the ingredients for the Nepali cocktail, or for clients to sell to.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin starts his motorcycle to go on his first drug run of the day as his grandmother looks on. Though his family is aware of his substance abuse problem, they do not fully understand his addiction, or how far he has fallen into the drug culture.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera
Sujin stands in front of a small workshop that produces Buddhist statues. He was once employed as a bronze sculptor in a shop such as this, but was fired when his drug addiction was discovered.


/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin meets a client to sell doses of Nepali cocktail. Each hit of the pharmaceutical blend costs up to Rs 1700 ($18), a fraction of the price of pure heroin. A heavy user might take more than five hits per day.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin injects a dose of the Nepali cocktail into the arm of one of his clients who is unable to do so himself. Finding a vien is an acquired skill and an inexperienced user runs the risk of injecting into an artery, causing extreme pain.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin and some of his drug clients visit Sujin's mother at the rice farm where she works as a labourer. She does not earn enough to support herself, and Sujin sells drugs to make up the rest.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera
Sujin talks with a drug client while his mother weeds a rice paddy. His mother does not fully understand his addiction and though she knows it is negatively affecting him, she does not see it as more harmful than alcohol.


/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin meets with drug dealing middlemen. By buying in bulk and selling half the doses, he can sustain his expensive addiction as well as earn a small amount of money.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin takes a hit of a Nepali cocktail in a Kathmandu restaurant. He prefers injecting it into his groin because he can easily find a vien.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin buys medication for his epileptic mother at a local pharmacy. Without the medication his mother has regular seizures.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera
Sujin takes stock of the drugs remaining at the end of the day and prepares his evening dose. With the quantities he sells he is able to take four hits per day and it requires extreme discipline not to take more.


/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin checks on his grandmother who lives in the same apartment building. She understands that her grandson is using something he shouldn't, but not how dangerous his addiction really is.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin shows a photo of himself taken when he was not using. Since then he has lost roughly 10kg due to the appetite supression caused by his drug used.



/ Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

After giving himself a dose of the Nepali cocktail, Sujin struggles to form coherant scentences, yet he often mutters about his desire for treament. However, his friends told Al Jazeera that they have offered to pay all the associated expenses of rehab in the past, and that each time Sujin has refused.




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images:
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captions:

Sujin Shresthra, 28, checks his phone immediately upon waking up. He has been using drugs since he was 20 years old and is now heavily addicted to a blend of three pharmaceuticals, known locally as a "Nepali cocktail", which he injects three to four times per day.

;*;

Referred to as "hunting", the search for drugs takes up most of Sujin(***)s day and he is constantly on his mobile phone, either talking to dealers to sell him the ingredients for the Nepali cocktail, or for clients to sell to.

;*;

Sujin starts his motorcycle to go on his first drug run of the day as his grandmother looks on. Though his family is aware of his substance abuse problem, they do not fully understand his addiction, or how far he has fallen into the drug culture.

;*;Sujin stands in front of a small workshop that produces Buddhist statues. He was once employed as a bronze sculptor in a shop such as this, but was fired when his drug addiction was discovered.;*;

Sujin meets a client to sell doses of Nepali cocktail. Each hit of the pharmaceutical blend costs up to Rs 1700 ($18), a fraction of the price of pure heroin. A heavy user might take more than five hits per day.

;*;

Sujin injects a dose of the Nepali cocktail into the arm of one of his clients who is unable to do so himself. Finding a vien is an acquired skill and an inexperienced user runs the risk of injecting into an artery, causing extreme pain.

;*;

Sujin and some of his drug clients visit Sujin(***)s mother at the rice farm where she works as a labourer. She does not earn enough to support herself, and Sujin sells drugs to make up the rest.

;*;Sujin talks with a drug client while his mother weeds a rice paddy. His mother does not fully understand his addiction and though she knows it is negatively affecting him, she does not see it as more harmful than alcohol.;*;

Sujin meets with drug dealing middlemen. By buying in bulk and selling half the doses, he can sustain his expensive addiction as well as earn a small amount of money.

;*;

Sujin takes a hit of a Nepali cocktail in a Kathmandu restaurant. He prefers injecting it into his groin because he can easily find a vien.

;*;

Sujin buys medication for his epileptic mother at a local pharmacy. Without the medication his mother has regular seizures.

;*;Sujin takes stock of the drugs remaining at the end of the day and prepares his evening dose. With the quantities he sells he is able to take four hits per day and it requires extreme discipline not to take more.;*;

Sujin checks on his grandmother who lives in the same apartment building. She understands that her grandson is using something he shouldn(***)t, but not how dangerous his addiction really is.

;*;

Sujin shows a photo of himself taken when he was not using. Since then he has lost roughly 10kg due to the appetite supression caused by his drug used.

;*;

After giving himself a dose of the Nepali cocktail, Sujin struggles to form coherant scentences, yet he often mutters about his desire for treament. However, his friends told Al Jazeera that they have offered to pay all the associated expenses of rehab in the past, and that each time Sujin has refused.

Daylife ID:
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Photographer:
;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;;*;
Image Source:
Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera;*; Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Nepal addictionhttp://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addictionen-ussupport@newscred.comUntitled Site10Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:45:33 GMT http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/b97018aa75c7b7d21c5c7c033a383504

Sujin Shresthra, 28, checks his phone immediately upon waking up. He has been using drugs since he was 20 years old and is now heavily addicted to a blend of three pharmaceuticals, known locally as a 'Nepali Cocktail', which he injects 3 to 4 times per day.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/b97018aa75c7b7d21c5c7c033a383504 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin Shresthra, 28, checks his phone immediately upon waking up. He has been using drugs since he was 20 years old and is now heavily addicted to a blend of three pharmaceuticals, known locally as a 'Nepali Cocktail', which he injects 3 to 4 times per day.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/6020ab4f05e669a64e9b643f1ad853ee

Sujin talks on the phone as he brushes his teeth. Referred to as 'hunting', the search for drugs takes up most of Sujin's day and he is constantly on his cell phone ,either talking to dealers to sell him the ingredients for the 'Nepali Cocktail', or for clients to sell to.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/6020ab4f05e669a64e9b643f1ad853ee Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin talks on the phone as he brushes his teeth. Referred to as 'hunting', the search for drugs takes up most of Sujin's day and he is constantly on his cell phone ,either talking to dealers to sell him the ingredients for the 'Nepali Cocktail', or for clients to sell to.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/848dba5165ef1e658c90c7927fba240bSujin starts his motorcycle to go on his first drug run of the day as his grandmother looks on. Though his family is aware of his substance abuse problem, they do not fully understand his addiction, or how far he has fallen into drug culture.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/848dba5165ef1e658c90c7927fba240b Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin starts his motorcycle to go on his first drug run of the day as his grandmother looks on. Though his family is aware of his substance abuse problem, they do not fully understand his addiction, or how far he has fallen into drug culture. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/6eca8ffeaddfab9a5ec33a366b71d231Sujin stands in front of a small workshop that produces Buddhist statues. He was once employed as a bronze sculptor in a shop such as this, but was fired when his drug addiction was discovered.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/6eca8ffeaddfab9a5ec33a366b71d231 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin stands in front of a small workshop that produces Buddhist statues. He was once employed as a bronze sculptor in a shop such as this, but was fired when his drug addiction was discovered. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/9d218ecf19f6ee509e308ed903ece854

Sujin meets a client to sell doses of 'Nepali Cocktail'. Each hit of the pharmaceutical blend costs up to 1700 rupees (17 USD), and a heavy user might take more than five hits per day.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/9d218ecf19f6ee509e308ed903ece854 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin meets a client to sell doses of 'Nepali Cocktail'. Each hit of the pharmaceutical blend costs up to 1700 rupees (17 USD), and a heavy user might take more than five hits per day.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/dcd47fa32736291f4745de051193b88f

Sujin injects a 'Nepali Cocktail' into the arm of one of his clients who is unable to do so himself. Finding a vien is an acquired skill and an inexperienced user runs the risk of injecting into an artery, causing extreme pain.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/dcd47fa32736291f4745de051193b88f Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera

Sujin injects a 'Nepali Cocktail' into the arm of one of his clients who is unable to do so himself. Finding a vien is an acquired skill and an inexperienced user runs the risk of injecting into an artery, causing extreme pain.

http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/939eb820efe490c37b82e6638f2f488eSujin and some of his drug clients visit Sujin's mother at the rice farm where she works as a labourer. She does not earn enough to support herself, and Sujin sells drugs to make up the rest.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/939eb820efe490c37b82e6638f2f488e Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin and some of his drug clients visit Sujin's mother at the rice farm where she works as a labourer. She does not earn enough to support herself, and Sujin sells drugs to make up the rest. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/4de65f6da3334f6d144475d88b3d27e8Sujin talks with a drug client while his mother weeds a rice paddy. His mother does not fully understand his addiction and though she knows it is negatively affecting him, she does not see it as more harmful than alcohol.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/4de65f6da3334f6d144475d88b3d27e8 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin talks with a drug client while his mother weeds a rice paddy. His mother does not fully understand his addiction and though she knows it is negatively affecting him, she does not see it as more harmful than alcohol. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/2d86e045ad3544a3c65cdbea6dbee3adSujin meets with drug dealing middlemen. By buying in bulk and selling half the doses, he can sustain his expensive addiction as well as earn a small ammount of money. Since losing his job as a sculptor, drugs dealing is his only source of income.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/2d86e045ad3544a3c65cdbea6dbee3ad Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin meets with drug dealing middlemen. By buying in bulk and selling half the doses, he can sustain his expensive addiction as well as earn a small ammount of money. Since losing his job as a sculptor, drugs dealing is his only source of income. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/4b5651580f22a9ed924ac32c16587f5dSujin takes a hit of Nepali cocktail in a Kathmandu restaurant. The groin is his preferred area to inject into as he can easily find a vien.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/4b5651580f22a9ed924ac32c16587f5d Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin takes a hit of Nepali cocktail in a Kathmandu restaurant. The groin is his preferred area to inject into as he can easily find a vien. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/633997f1bdaeb90f5aa08e99ff85477aSujin buys medication for his epileptic mother at a local pharmacy. Without the medication his mother has regular seizures and he is only able to pay for it with money earned from selling drugs.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/633997f1bdaeb90f5aa08e99ff85477a Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin buys medication for his epileptic mother at a local pharmacy. Without the medication his mother has regular seizures and he is only able to pay for it with money earned from selling drugs. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/694ff5d1f17117eec4d47b0096f2273fSujin takes stock of the drugs remaining at the end of the day and prepares his evening dose. With the quantities he sells he is able to take four hits per day and it requires extreme discipline not to take more.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/694ff5d1f17117eec4d47b0096f2273f Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin takes stock of the drugs remaining at the end of the day and prepares his evening dose. With the quantities he sells he is able to take four hits per day and it requires extreme discipline not to take more. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/f5a6bc46e5c1daa112ed8aca6aef50e9Sujin checks on his grandmother who lives in the same apartment building. She understands that her grandson is using something he shouldn't, but not how dangerous his addiction really is.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/f5a6bc46e5c1daa112ed8aca6aef50e9 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin checks on his grandmother who lives in the same apartment building. She understands that her grandson is using something he shouldn't, but not how dangerous his addiction really is. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/ce06e74da9ba7cce34da44278b487603Sujin looks at a photo of himself taken when he was not using. Since then he has lost roughly 10kg due to the appetite supression caused by his drug used.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/ce06e74da9ba7cce34da44278b487603 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin looks at a photo of himself taken when he was not using. Since then he has lost roughly 10kg due to the appetite supression caused by his drug used. http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/f66015a1f3111362da7a40a9b313c4e8Sujin waits for his mother to return from work in the rice fields, after giving himself an injection of Nepali Cocktail. When high, Sujin struggles to form coherant scentences, yet he often mutters about his desire for treament. However, friends report having offered to pay all the associated expenses of rehab in the past, and that each time Sujin has refused.http://aljazeera.galleries.newscred.com/gallery/Nepal_addiction/slideshow/no-caption/f66015a1f3111362da7a40a9b313c4e8 Luc Forsyth/Al Jazeera Sujin waits for his mother to return from work in the rice fields, after giving himself an injection of Nepali Cocktail. When high, Sujin struggles to form coherant scentences, yet he often mutters about his desire for treament. However, friends report having offered to pay all the associated expenses of rehab in the past, and that each time Sujin has refused.


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