Herat is a beautiful city in Afghanistan known for its long history as an international trade centre linking Western and Central Asia with the Middle East. However, the city has a dark side, a side recently profiled by US-based National Public Radio (NPR). According to their report, the city has a problem with heroin addiction that is growing at an alarming rate. What’s more, the addiction spans all age groups – including children and seniors.

NPR profiled one middle-aged woman who lives in a dump outside of town with her sister-in-law and 10-year-old daughter. The woman moved to the dump after her husband died and she could no longer afford to remain in their home. When her sister-in-law moved in, she brought with her a heroin habit she passed on to the 10-year-old girl. All three are now hopelessly addicted and seemingly without hope.

This one story is tragic enough by itself. However, NPR’s investigation revealed that this family’s story is repeated time and again throughout Herat and many other places in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, it does not end there. It stretches throughout Asia and into the Middle East.

For example, the sister-in-law who brought heroin to the widow and her daughter picked up the habit while living in neighbouring Iran. Heroin and crystal meth are plentiful in Iran despite the image of a strict Muslim nation that does not tolerate such things. The NPR report suggests there are many more addicts in Iran than the government is willing to admit.

Out-Of-Control Pain Relief

The drug problem in Iran stems from the fact that the average citizen is used to using heroin and crystal meth to deal with pain issues. For them, using a little bit of opium to treat a minor injury is no different from someone in the West using aspirin or acetaminophen. However, opiates are a lot more powerful. People in Iran use some of these drugs very casually to the point of eventually becoming addicted. Moreover, like anywhere else in the world, it is often too late by the time they realise they have a problem.

Where things are different is the fact that the level of help in most Western countries simply does not exist in places like Iran and Afghanistan. Those who find themselves addicted are left to deal with the consequences on their own. In the case of the profiled Afghani widow, that means a life of begging on the street to provide for her daughter and sister-in-law.

Tragically, her daughter became an addict while the widow was working a legitimate job cleaning houses. As a younger child, her aunt would give her heroin in order to settle her down while mother was away at work. It was not long before the child was addicted too.

No Way to Live

Addiction is no way to live. It matters not whether you live in Afghanistan, Iran, or the UK – addiction is not a life; it is a prison that destroys everyone it touches. If you are currently a drug user or abuser, we hope you will take heed of the lessons of the NPR report. No good can come of your continued use of drugs or alcohol. Now is the time to make the decision to stop using.

In Afghanistan and Iran, there isn’t a lot of help for addicts who want to come clean. Here in the UK, that is not the case. There is no legitimate reason for you to remain a prisoner to your drug habit unless you choose to do so. If you want help, it is readily available. Addiction politics is a problematic topic, but we can assist you with understanding everything about it.

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