Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer and supplier is also a country that is confronting an alarming addiction problem, a new survey published by the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime shows. At least 1 million Afghans, or roughly 8 percent of the population, are drug addicts, the survey found.
At a June 21 news conference to mark the report’s release, Deputy Minister of Counter Narcotics Mohammed Ibrahim Azhar said the number of opium users had increased by 53 percent since the last UN survey was conducted in 2005. The number of heroin users jumped 140 percent.
One place where addiction is growing the fastest is within Afghanistan’s security forces. The US Government Accountability Office reported in March that between 12 percent and 41 percent of Afghan National Police recruits (depending on the training center where the survey was conducted) suffered from drug addiction. Pointing to those findings at the June 21 news conference, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative Robert Watkins said drug use among police is a threat to the safety and security of the entire nation.
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Aunohita Mojumdar is a freelance journalist based in Kabul.