MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): The number of drug addicts has been on the increase in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, due to easy access to narcotics, local officials say.
Dr. Esmatullah Karimi, in charge of drug addicts rehab centers in Balkh, in an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News said that joblessness and environmental issues were among factors behind addiction of youths.
He expressed concern that the number of drug addicts was increasing with each passing day in the province. The rehab centers have the capacity of treating 435 addicts at a time while the actual number of those in need of treatment is much higher, he said.
Karimi said, “Another main reason of high rate of addiction in Balkh is easy access to drugs, it is our request to relevant organs to stop traffic of narcotics.” Poverty is also a factor,” he added.
Most of drug addicts return to consuming narcotics again after their rehabilitation, he said. Lack of awareness about the hazards of using drugs caused people to remain indifferent about this dangerous phenomenon, Karimi said.
He added that they also had the plan to launch public awareness programs about the injurious affects of narcotics on human health.
A number of drug smugglers and sellers openly sell narcotics in different parts of Mazar-i-Sharif, he added.
“We have seen many times people dressed like junkies sell narcotics to drug addicts, they themselves are not addicted, but dressed like that to sell narcotics,” he said.
Karimi said he has shared these issues with security organs, including police and intelligence officials of Balkh.
“Relevant security organs have created some plans and we expect drug trafficking would reduce with their implementation”, he said.
Every addict is hospitalized for 45 days in a rehab center and after discharge, they are under care of health groups for up to a year, he said.
“A serious problem in our society is that people do not easily accept drug addicts even after their treatment,” he said.
Karimi did not provide exact number of drug addicts in Balkh, but said the number of such people was increasing in the province with each passing day.
He said that the Ministry of Public Health had plan to have an accurate statistics of drug addicts in the province next year.