Holding the line on heroin: Afghanistan and its monopoly on the heroin industry
For several years, Afghanistan has been torn apart by civil warfare, leaving many of its residents without shelter whilst suffering from enduring trauma. Along with millions of residents dealing with the aftermath of this chaotic time, there are also an estimated one million residents suffering from heroin addiction. Afghanistan is the global leader in poppy production and supplies 90 percent of the world’s heroin. Afghani people are also the leading consumer of this drug with almost three million drug addicts residing within the country.
Over just the last decade, Afghanistan’s share in the heroin market has shot up from producing 50 percent of Europe’s heroin to producing over 90 percent of the world’s heroin supply. Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the country’s opium production has increased over 35 fold.
There have even been one million deaths linked to Afghan heroin since 2001, according to Viktor Ivanov, the head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service.
During the civil war and fight against Soviet occupation, millions of Afghans left the country to refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan to escape the chaos of the war. Many of them developed an addiction to heroin while they were living abroad that they broad back to Afghanistan.
There are a number of reasons outside of the increase in poppy production that could have attributed to a rise in the Afghanistan’s heroin users. United Nations officials believe the high availability of cheap narcotics, psychological trauma from prolonged periods of war and lack of access to treatment options for addicts could be large culprits in this large surge in heroin addiction.
The cultivation of poppies reaps a large profit for the Taliban, which made a $155 million dollar profit through the drug trade in 2009, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Afghanistan’s monopoly on the heroin trade has lead to problems of similar nature in Iran, where an estimated 80 percent of the heroin that is imported through Europe passes through. It is also home to over two million drug addicts and, according to the Iranian Rights Documentation Center, approximately 70 percent of the executions that took place in Iran since 2011 were due to drug-related crimes.
The ongoing drug trade in Afghanistan has created a monopoly on the opium industry and authorities currently inside and outside of the country have focused their efforts to reduce opium production. Since 2001, America’s government has spent over $6 million to curb Afghanistan’s opium production. These measures have yet to significantly hinder Afghanistan’s, lucrative opium industry.
Millions of people across the world are addicted to this substance, leaving a trail of despair behind. What is worse, many will never receive the help they truly need. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading heroin addiction treatment providers in the country. If you know someone who is struggling with heroin addiction and is in need of treatment, please do not hesitate to call. We offer inpatient, outpatient and detox services for patients attempting to withdraw from opioids. You may reach us at 888-530-4614. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialist will assist you in finding the right treatment option.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer