Under Taliban, Kabul’s Drug Addicts Forced Into Withdrawal

Afghanistan offers round 90 % of the world’s manufacturing of heroin


With shaved heads, outsized tunics and the terrified gaze of the hunted, the drug addicts rounded up by the Taliban brace for 45 days of painful withdrawal.

For some, the hardliners’ raids could probably assist them forged off the yoke of dependancy.

However for a lot of the keep at Kabul’s Ibn Sina centre will simply mark a brief change of scene, marked by a brutal method to forcing customers off their highly effective dependence.

Earlier than the Taliban marched into Kabul on August 15, police within the capital would generally arrest addicts and switch them to the centre.


Exhibits drug addicts ready to register on the Avicenna medical hospital for drug therapy in Kabul

However because the hardline Islamists took management, the frequency of raids on areas the place addicts collect seems to have elevated.

A whole bunch of customers shelter in squalid circumstances at Pul-e-Sukhta, underneath a bridge in western Kabul synonymous with arduous medicine and violent crime.

They recognise the rehab clinic’s ambulance, and those that can carry themselves off the fetid floor stagger down the rubbish-strewn Paghman River to keep away from seize, whereas many are too intoxicated to get up.

Two Taliban fighters, armed with M16 and AK-47 rifles, prod the comatose heroin and methamphetamine customers with their gun barrels as outreach employees wrestle with males earlier than forcing them to the car.

Uncooked sewage runs straight into the boggy river mattress, and the stench of urine, faeces and vomit within the crowded drug den is overwhelming.

Cushions, blankets, sandbags and tarpaulins make up the ramshackle camp, which is affected by the addicts’ paraphernalia: syringes, wraps, foil and pipes.

The gunmen fireplace a number of pictures into the air to say their authority and shock the addicts, earlier than about 20 are rounded up and whisked away.

Searches and checks

Throughout their 45-day rehabilitation keep on the 1,000-bed centre, the lads spend their time mendacity on cots in giant dormitories or crouched within the yard, absorbing the autumn solar.

There’s little methadone obtainable to assist wean the opium and heroin addicts, and nothing to take away the withdrawal pains for these being weaned off of meth, medical doctors say.

This morning, Emal, 36, shuffles into the registration room.

A volunteer, who like many others working here’s a former addict, opens his logbook.

Title? Emal.

Your father’s title? Abdul Matin.

Married? Sure. I’ve three kids, two women and one boy.

Working? Not presently.

What medicine do you’re taking? Crystal (meth).

Have you ever been right here earlier than? Sure, thrice. That is my fourth. I used to be discharged 10 days in the past.

As Emal leaves, 22-year-old Bilal Ahmad, skinny and jittery, takes a seat. He’s additionally hooked on meth, and has been via the programme earlier than, “one or one and a half yr years in the past”.

“I’m completely happy to be right here,” he tells AFP, casting fearful, furtive glances across the room that point out he isn’t. “In 45 days, God keen, we will go dwelling.”

The boys are searched rigorously after they arrive.

“Open your mouth. Wider. Raise your tongue,” one other member of employees on the clinic tells the brand new arrivals, earlier than checking their sneakers and garments for traces of medicine.

In teams of six, they then shuffle to the tiled constructing that homes the showers.

There their dishevelled khaki tunics and trousers are eliminated and they’re handed a packet of shampoo, however no towel.

Once they emerge, dripping, they’re handed over to a workforce of barbers who shave their heads to stop the unfold of lice, however go away their scraggy beards.

Some are taken to rooms lined with 5 beds, whereas others are ushered right into a dormitory the place round 30 males of all ages are already mendacity on high of their covers.

One childishly performs a bamboo flute. One other gestures to his mouth indicating that he’s hungry.

‘Horrible downside’

Poppy cultivation was banned underneath the Taliban’s final rule within the Nineties, however the export of heroin from Taliban-controlled areas supplied the hardliners with billions of {dollars} throughout their insurgency towards the USA and the Western-backed authorities.

With poppies low-cost and straightforward to develop, Afghanistan offers round 90 % of the world’s manufacturing of heroin.


Exhibits drug customers consuming medicine

Crystal methamphetamine manufacturing has additionally surged, created from the ephedra plant which grows wild within the nation.

In accordance with anti-narcotics consultants, 11 % of Afghanistan’s 34 million inhabitants are drug customers, with 4 to 6 % addicted.

Since sweeping again into energy, the Taliban have promised to not enable narcotics manufacturing.

“It’s the coverage of the Islamic Emirate,” mentioned Physician Ahmad Zoher Sultani, who heads the centre situated in an previous US military base.

For now, the employees within the centre are all working with out pay. Salaries haven’t been paid out for 4 months as Afghanistan’s economic system teeters on the breaking point.

Sultani says he was anxious that the Taliban would shut his clinic after they first seized energy.

“Their intentions in direction of us weren’t clear,” he informed AFP, including although that the nation’s new rulers had “shortly informed us they wished us to proceed.”

In indicators he’s adapting to the brand new regime, the physician has since mid-August swapped out his Western go well with and tie for the standard shalwar kameez, and has eliminated the entire pictures that after stuffed the partitions of his workplace.

“Medication are a horrible downside,” he mentioned.

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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