Few Treatment Options For Growing Population Of Drug Users In Afghanistan

The New York Times examines the “growing drug addiction problem” in Afghanistan, where, in 2010, about 900,000 people, or seven percent of the adult population, were using drugs, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The newspaper notes “a recent report by the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with Johns Hopkins University … found HIV present in about seven percent of drug users, double the figure just three years ago, said Dr. Fahim Paigham, who until recently directed the Ministry of Public Health’s AIDS control program.”

Many drug users “say they want to stop using, but treatment options are woefully few,” the newspaper writes, adding, “The government, through some Afghan nonprofit groups, runs several detoxification centers and is building seven more, but the facilities offer almost no post-detoxification support and have a 92 percent relapse rate, according to the Ministry of Counternarcotics, which is involved in running them … The most efficacious treatment — opiate substitution therapy — has been all but blocked by the ministry despite pleas from the Ministry of Public Health, whose doctors are worried about the rising incidence of HIV” (Rubin/Rahimi, 8/27).