AFGHAN DRUG ADDICTION
A 2005 UN report estimated the total number of opium and heroin users to almost 230,000, (UNODC 2005). These figures are considered to be greatly conservative, as data collection in Afghanistan is arduous and there is a strong stigma associated to drug use, preventing users from being acknowledged and helped. Together with drug use, injection related diseases are on the rise in Afghanistan.
The bombed-out ruins of the old Russian Cultural Center has become a massive drug den. Addicts inhabit nooks and niches in this bombed building to smoke or shoot up heroin in dilapidated rooms usually stinking with the urine. The Kabul Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center's Wadan clinic runs a program to help wean participants off drugs. Since the center opened in May 2009, it has rehabilitated over 400 addicts in its 100 bed facility with temporary funding from International Organization of Migration (IOM) and help from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). The program lasts for 45-days combining both detox and rehabilitation. The center houses the two leading organizations that offer detox programs, Wadan and Nejat. A U.S. Department of State report 2009 states that there are an estimated two million drug users in the country with atleast 50-60,000 drug addicts in Kabul alone. The drug addicts are provided advice by medical professionals on how to rehabilitate and detoxify their bodies. There is also a large social element to the program, with participants regularly drinking tea together, talking, exercising and even playing chess and volley ball. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, drug addicts seeking help arrive at the clinic.