Afghan drug addiction twice global average:
KABUL — Eight percent of Afghans suffer from drug addiction, a rate twice the global average,
in a "major" growing problem for the world's leading narcotic producer, said an official survey released Monday.
Issued by the Afghan government and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),
the report found around one million people in the country aged 15 to 64 had drug addictions,
often to opium and heroin.
"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 in a press statement.
Afghanistan is the leading producer of opium, the raw material for making heroin, and the survey found addiction could spread because drug users in north and south Afghanistan gave opium to their children.
The study also found that in the last five years the number of regular opium users had jumped 53 percent and the number of heroin users doubled as the drug industry boomed.
"In Afghanistan the growth of addiction to narcotics has followed the same hyperbolic pattern of opium production," Costa said.
The report added that only ten percent of drug users surveyed had received any kind of drug treatment,
even though 90 percent felt they needed it.
Afghans were also addicted to cannabis, painkillers and tranquilisers, taking drugs "as a kind of self-medication against the hardships of life"
in the war-torn country, which is battling a Taliban-led insurgency.
Afghanistan produces over 90 percent of the world's opium, mainly in the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar in the south
and Farah in the southwest, at an estimated worth of 2.8 billion dollars per year.
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