Drug Abuse and Addiction in Afghanistan

There were an estimated 1.6 million drug users in Afghanistan in 2013, roughly 5.3 percent of the country’s population. 10 percent of households across Afghanistan has at least one drug user residing there.

In the city of Herat, 20 percent of households has a drug user residing there with roughly 8 percent of the city population abusing drugs. Across the entire province, security services state that there are 60,000 to 70,000 drug addicts, with public health programs claiming 100,000.  18 percent of intravenous drug users in the city were infected with HIV, compared to 3 percent of intravenous drug users in Kabul.

In October 2013, the intelligence agency of Afghanistan fired 65 employees because they were addicted to opium.

(See all heroin addiction facts.)

In order to treat the drug addicts, there are under 28,000 formal drug treatment slots available nationwide, according to health officials. The criminal justice system of Afghanistan spends less than $4 Million a year on treatment, and relies on $12 Million in international aid to meet the costs.

Between 2001 and 2013, the United States has spent over $6 Billion to battle the opium industry in Afghanistan. In 2010 to 2012, opium cultivation increased to its highest levels since 2008. Demand for Afghan heroin and the prices of heroin have remained steady.

Source:  Azam Ahmed, “That Other Big Afghan Crisis, the Growing Army of Addicts,” New York Times, November 2, 2013.