Afghanistan's child opium addicts

Al Jazeera looks at drug-addicted children and the limited resources to help them.

by

    Zarbibi says she now regrets giving
    her son opium

    Afghanistan remains infamous as an exporter of opium. However, opium use within the country is just as rampant, with perhaps one million addicts in the country, according to the UN, of whom more than 600,000 are under the age of 15.

    Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr travelled to the mainly rural province of Badakshan in northeastern Afghanistan, where children under five years old are routinely given opium by their mothers.

    Three-year-old Said is an opium addict. Without it, he becomes restless.

    His mother Zarbibi shares her child's condition. She herself is a user and has been one for the past four years.

    Zarbibi routinely blows opium into Said's face to keep him quiet. It is the only way she knows how to free herself so that she can work.

    She said: "Whenever I have chores or work at home, I give my son opium so he would stay calm.

    "I also give him opium so he can sleep. When I realised he became an addict, I regretted it."

    Limited treatment

    Another mother told us a similar story but she would not give her name.

    There is limited treatment for addicts
    in the province of Badakshan
    Her five-year-old daughter inherited her addiction in the womb.

    But it did not stop there. She continues to breast-feed her with opium-laced milk and tells us that she blows opium smoke on her child's face to keep her from crying.

    The women live in Faizabad, where more and more children are becoming opium addicts.

    What is making matters worse in this province is that there is only limited treatment available.

    Rural crisis

    There is only one drug rehabilitation centre in the whole area. It does not have the resources, expertise or budget to deal with the growing number of users.

    Only 25 out of the 13,000 registered users in Badakshan receive help every month.

    Doctors tell us the situation is worse in the villages, but it is simply too far for many to come for treatment, especially children. There, opium is used instead of medicine.

    Much attention is being paid to Afghanistan's export of opium, but few talk about the drugs that stay within the country.

    There is no shortage of drugs in Afghanistan - and no shortage of reasons for children to try to escape the world in which they are trapped.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    The woman who cleans up after 'lonely deaths' in Japan

    When somebody dies lonely and alone, Miyu Kojima steps in to clean their home and organise the mementos of their life.

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    Putin and the 'triumph of Christianity' in Russia

    The rise of the Orthodox Church in Russia appears unstoppable, write filmmakers Glen Ellis and Viktoryia Kolchyna who went to investigate the close ties between the church and Putin.

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    The chill effect: Is India's media running scared?

    Much of India's media spurns a scoop about the son of PM Modi's right-hand man. Plus, NFL as platform for race politics.