UNODC Reports Major Drug Abuse in Afghanistan
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
KABUL, 21 June 2010 – A survey on Drug Use in Afghanistan,
issued today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, shows
that around one million Afghans (age 15-64) suffer from drug
addiction. At eight per cent of the population, this rate is twice
the global average. "After three decades of war-related trauma,
unlimited availability of cheap narcotics and limited access to
treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in
Afghanistan," said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.
"The human face of Afghanistan's drug problem is not only seen
on the streets of Moscow, London or Paris. It is in the eyes of
its own citizens, dependent on a daily dose of opium and heroin
above all - but also cannabis, painkillers and tranquilizers,"
said Mr. Costa.
"Many Afghans are taking drugs as a kind of self-medication
against the hardships of life. Significantly, many of them began
taking drugs as migrants or refugees in camps in Iran and
Pakistan," noted Mr. Costa. Yet, instead of easing pain, opiate
use is causing even greater misery: it creates behavioural, social
and health problems, crime, accidents, and loss of productivity in
the workplace. Injecting drug use, as well as sex traded for drugs
or money, spread HIV and other blood-borne diseases.
During the past five years (in 2005 a similar survey was done),
in Afghanistan the number of regular opium users has jumped 53 per
cent, from 150,000 to 230,000 while the number of heroin users has
increased from 50,000 to 120,000, a leap of 140 per cent. "In
Afghanistan the growth of addiction to narcotics has followed the
same hyperbolic pattern of opium production," observed Mr. Costa.
One of the most shocking statistics in this report is the
number of parents who give opium to their children; as high as 50
per cent of drug users in the north and south of the country.
"This risks condemning the next generation of Afghans to a life of
addiction, " said Mr. Costa.
The report reveals a major shortage of drug treatment. Only ten
per cent of drug users surveyed had received any form of drug
treatment, although 90 per cent of them felt that they were in
need of it. "More than 700,000 Afghans have no access to drug
treatment. I invite the nations that support Afghanistan's efforts
to curb drug cultivation to help it as well overcome its
drug-related health crisis," said Mr. Costa. He called for much
greater resources for drug prevention and treatment in
Afghanistan, as part of mainstream healthcare and development
"Much has been said, and written, about Afghanistan as a
leading producer of drugs, causing health havoc in the world. It
is time to recognize that the same tragedy is taking place in
Afghanistan, that has now become a leading consumer of its own
opium," said Mr. Costa.