i just saw this article that was posted today on aol news. How absolutely sad. I hope the C&P works, the article may be too long to copy here. If it doesnt work, I'll just post the URL so you can read it
Opium Takes Over Entire Afghan Villages
By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI
posted: 3 HOURS 5 MINUTES AGO
SARAB, Afghanistan (Aug. 10) — Open the door to Islam Beg's house and the thick opium smoke rushes out into the cold mountain air, like steam from a bathhouse. It's just past 8 a.m. and the family of six — including a 1-year-old baby boy — is already curled up at the lip of the opium pipe.
Beg, 65, breathes in and exhales a cloud of smoke. He passes the pipe to his wife. She passes it to their daughter. The daughter blows the opium smoke into the baby's tiny mouth. The baby's eyes roll back into his head.
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Their faces are gaunt. Their hair is matted. They smell.
In dozens of mountain hamlets in this remote corner of Afghanistan, opium addiction has become so entrenched that whole families — from toddlers to old men — are addicts. The addiction moves from house to house, infecting entire communities cut off from the rest of the world by glacial streams. From just one family years ago, at least half the people of Sarab, population 1,850, are now addicts.
Afghanistan supplies nearly all the world's opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin, and while most of the deadly crop is exported, enough is left behind to create a vicious cycle of addiction. There are at least 200,000 opium and heroin addicts in Afghanistan — 50,000 more than in the much bigger, wealthier U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a 2005 survey by the U.N. A new survey is expected to show even higher rates of addiction, a window into the human toll of Afghanistan's back-to-back wars and desperate poverty.
Unlike in the West, the close-knit nature of communities here makes addiction a family affair. Instead of passing from one rebellious teenager to another, the habit passes from mother to daughter, father to son. It's turning villages like this one into a landscape of human depredation.
Except for a few soiled mats, Beg's house is bare. He has pawned all his family's belongings to pay for drugs.
"I am ashamed of what I have become," says Beg, an unwashed turban curled on his head. "I've lost my self-respect. I've lost my values. I take the food from this child to pay for my opium," he says, pointing to his 5-year-old grandson, Mamadin. "He just stays hungry."
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Beg's forefathers owned much of the land in the village, located beside a gushing stream at the end of a canyon of craggy mountains in Badakshan province, hundreds of miles (kilometers) northeast of Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.
He once had 1,200 sheep. He sold them off one by one to pay for drugs.
The land followed. He's turned his spacious home, once lined with ornamental carpets, into a mud shell. He grows potatoes in rows in the last of his fields and each time he harvests the crop, he has to make a choice — feed his grandchildren, or buy opium. He usually chooses drugs.
Basic necessities like soap long ago fell by the wayside.
"If we have 50 cents, we buy opium and we smoke it. We don't use the 50 cents to buy soap to clean our clothes," explains Raihan, Beg's daughter and the mother of the 1-year-old. The toddler wears a filthy shirt and no underwear. "I can be out of food, but not out of opium."
The country's few ************** centers are in cities far from villages like this one. And even those able to get themselves to the cities are often unable to get help. The drug clinic in Takhar province, the nearest to Sarab, has a waiting list of 2,000 people and only 30 beds.
So the villagers are drowning in opium. They begin taking it when they are sick, relying on its anesthetic properties — opium is also used to make morphine. Sarab, a village located at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) and snowed in for up to three months a year, is a day's walk over mountain paths to the nearest hospital. The few shops in town do not even sell aspirin.
"Opium is our doctor," says Beg. "When your stomach hurts, you take a smoke. Then you take a little more. And a little more. And then, you're addicted. Once you're hooked, it's over. You're finished."
When his grandson Shamsuddin, 1, cut his finger in the door jamb, Beg blew opium smoke into the child's mouth, a common practice in this part of the world which is now resulting in rampant child addiction. He doesn't want his grandchild to become an addict, but he says he has no choice. "If there is no medicine here, what should we do? The only way to make him feel better is to give him opium."
From a single smoke, they progress to a three-times-a-day habit that spreads. When Beg began using opium, it wasn't just his wife and daughter who followed suit. It was his brother. Then his brother's wife. Like an epidemic, it makes its way across the village.
part 1 will post rest of article in second post below