Under the Bridge in Kabul-opiate addiction



Addicts languishing on the banks of the Kabul River

afganaddictsAnyone remember the song about addiction and homelessness by The Red Hot Chili Peppers called “Under the Bridge?” Here we go again.

Man, I thought heroin addicts had it rough in this country. At least we have Methadone clinics for the overflow of addicts who can’t actually kick. That program reduces the spread of illness, so even though it’s less than perfect, it’s a long term temporary solution for some addicts who don’t ‘graduate’ to sobriety, such as it is.

In Afghanistan, cheap heroin, easy access, unemployment, lack of housing, fraying families, malnutrition, and untreated mental illnesses are just a few factors of the epidemic most vividly illustrated by a New York Times piece about the heroin addicts gathering in informal ‘drug camps’ under the bridges of the River Kabul. It’s gotten to be such an eyesore that other residents line up on the bridges to watch. Schadenfreud. Again.

It’s said that  you walk on the riverbank you can hear the crunch of hundreds of thousands dirty needles underfoot. Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opiates and reports say 12% or more adults there are addicted.

Something’s being done about it but it will just staunch the bleeding. These people are rounded up and being sent to some ad hoc sort of treatment program at an empty United States Military base from 2003.

When the base was abandoned apparently we took all the goodies, televisions, kitchens, but they are doing the best they can. They are only allowed to stay for 180 days and there are no aftercare programs to help prevent relapse.

When I read the part about the needles crunching underfoot, I got a powerful visual.

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