It is common knowledge that Southern West Asia – particularly Afghanistan – has long faced a severe problem of drug production. Afghanistan alone produces about 90% of all the opium and opiate drugs in the world. Misery and destruction caused by decades of war alongside the subsequent unstructured and largely corrupted authorities have permitted the drug business to flourish. Nevertheless, this is not a recent phenomenon. What is recent however, is the alarming rise of the drug consumption by Afghans. According to the United Nations, from 2005 to 2009, opium consumption in the country doubled. By now, the number of drug users is estimated to be about 5.3% of the country’s population – one of the highest rates in the world, with some regions more problematic than others such as the province of Herat, which amongst a population of 440 000 people, counts almost 80 000 addicts.
Some Afghans argue they have started to use opium because it was cheaper than to go to a doctor. Indeed, many children became addicted to opium because their parents treated almost any disease they had with it. Others blame it on their forced displacement to Pakistan and Iran during the war, where they acquired the junky habits. The reasons are extremely complex. What is yet more complicated is that authorities must understand straight away that along with fighting drug production, they must start addressing their country’s drug consumption problem. You can learn more about this issue here (don’t forget to see the video).