Afghanistan is a war-torn country that has become the centre of attention of the last decade, most notably the unrest between themselves and the USA.
However, they are also responsible for providing 90% of the world’s opium supply, used to make the harmful drug heroin.
The numbers of people that have become addicted to drugs are constantly increasing and it has even begun affecting children between the ages of 3 and 12.
Drug rehabilitation centres in Afghanistan have begun to take action to the growing numbers of children become addicted to opium, by offering them treatment and a new lease of life.
A rehab centre run by Afghan charity Wadan, which is also funded by the United Nations, gives 25 children and 35 women the opportunity to become clean and sober in the hope that they will overcome their addiction.
For those suffering symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation and headaches, medical treatment is given but for long term addicts, hydrotherapy or rather cold showers are order of the day.
In the article found on News24, a girl named Marwa, a recovering sleeping pill addict at the tender age of 10, said that she began to use the medication since she was a baby. She constantly found herself feeling drowsy or sleepy and was often teased by her friends because of this.
However, now that she has received treatment, she dreams about becoming an engineer.
The rehab centre’s administrator, Fazalwahid Tahiri, says that sleeping pills are often mixed with milk for children, however another dangerous concoction given to kids in Afghanistan is a powerful soup made from opium, which is used to treat flu and other stomach illnesses.
Tahiri said that it’s used because of its easy to get hold of; it often causes the misconception that it cannot be addictive.
Dr Zarbadshah Jabarkhail, a member of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) state that around 300 000 children are affected by opium, with the cause being directly related parents who are smoking the drug around their kids or by feeding them with it as a method to calm them down while they are busy.
Dr Jabarkhail said that it’s ‘unusual’ that so many people in Afghanistan didn’t know the dangers of opium and that ‘if they give drugs to their children, they are also killing them at the same time’
Approximately 60% of their entire population is under the age of 25 and 52% is younger than 18 years old and Dr Jabarkhail believes that if these children don’t receive help for their drug addiction, the future of Afghanistan looks dire.
How This Affects South Africa
The Central Drug Authority of South Africa discovered in 2011 that there was a 61% increase in the growth of opium producing poppy plants in Afghanistan.
Acting chairman of the CDA, Dr Ray Eberlein, said that they were expecting an increase of opium in South Africa, at a much cheaper price.