Drug addiction is quickly turning into a grave crisis in Afghanistan. It is crystal clear that Afghanistan is the largest opium producer, but the addiction problem has never looked this threatening until a number of years ago, after studies suggested that hundreds of thousands of Afghan citizens are addicted to drugs.
The Afghan authorities and non-Afghan researchers who have conducted these studies suggest that poverty, war, poor access to health care services, and the growing opium production are the major causes of addiction among Afghans. In addition, there is a rather high percentage of addiction among Afghan returnees from Iran and Pakistan, mainly among young workers who travel to these two countries for employment opportunities.
In the meantime, women, who already face serious challenges in the dominantly patriarchal society, are significantly affected by this phenomenon. A large number of women help their families working in and outside the house. Some of them use drugs to control pain; some use it to heal their psychological wounds (grief, trauma, depression, etc); and some are simply passive smokers who gradually get addicted. This comes when there are not enough treatment centers to offer adequate, effective services.
Recent study indicates that there are now one million Afghans who are addicted to drugs, among them 60,000 women.
Over 30 years of war, coupled with instability, insurgency, poverty, and drug mafia, has given rise to a threatening vicious cycle that cannot be overcome by the Afghan government unless there is a regional consensus to limit drug production, address poverty, offer preventive measures, and treat citizens suffering from drug addiction through medical and psychological programs as well as social empowerment.
We should not forget that addiction affects the entire family system not only in terms of economy but more importantly in terms of psychology and family relationships. Addicted parents are unable to be good role models for their children. They are mainly suffering from medical problems as well as aggression, thus using physical violence for conflict resolution. They also have legal problems. This, in the best case scenario, leaves children with unmet psychological needs if they have not been addicted to drugs themselves by now!
Following is a report by the BBC on this subject: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-17679200
Feature image retrieved from: www.onislam.net