The number of drug addicts has doubled in two years in northern Jawzjan province, where most robbery incidents are blamed on junkies.
Health officials say the population of addicts had risen from 1,100 in 2012 to more than 2,000 in 2014. In Shiberghan, the number of drug addicts has increased to 300 from 100 a year back.
Rehabilitation Centre Director Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Khoshiwal told Pajhwok Afghan News the increase in the number of drug addicts was mainly due to joblessness.
He said most Afghans, who travelled to neighbouring countries, particularly Iran, in search of job had started using drugs there. Females, who constitute 35 percent of addicts, used opium to sleep well after work.
About 350 drug addicts were treated at the rehabilitation center last year and another 300 over the past two months, he said.
Heroin users in Afghansitan.
“We treat 50 addicts in a period of time and anyone, who wants to be treated, should register with the centre.”
Khoshiwal said the 50-bed hospital could not deal with the large number of patients visiting for rehabilitation.
“It takes a month to treat 50 addicts, who also need psychological assistance to return to a normal life after quitting drugs.”
An under treatment addict at the facility, Sharifullah, said he developed the habit in Iran, where he had gone in search of work.
He said he would not turn to the habit again, saying his health condition had improved a lot compared to the past.
But some other addicts accused the rehabilitation center officials of demanding 6,000 afghanis from each patient.
“I cannot afford this amount and will not seek my treatment here,” another drug user, Khairullah, said.
But Khoshiwal rejected his claim, saying some drug users after their treatment resumed using drugs and to avoid being treated again, they made false claims against the centre.
Khairullah, who lives in a ruined place in Shiberghan City, said when he lacked money to buy opium, he used to steal things to fulfill his need.
Shiberghan residents also complained most robbery cases involved drug addicts.
Resident Zamarai said drug addicts stole everything they could, even plants from gardens.
Crime Branch Chief Cap. Abdul Latif said most drug addicts could not work to earn money and thus stealing things. He confirmed some addicts accused of robberies, had been arrested.
A report jointly prepared by the UNODC and the Ministry of Counternarcotics says one million people are addicted to drugs in Afghanistan.