Afghanistan is currently the world’s largest supplier of heroin. Last year alone, the country produced over 3,000 tonnes of heroin. Although production has decreased somewhat in recent years, the problem is not going anywhere.
The majority of the opium produced in Afghanistan is exported, but there is still an overwhelming supply that remains in the country, making heroin readily accessible and extremely cheap for locals to buy. In 2014, it was estimated that there were around 2.4 million drug users in Afghanistan, which has a population of about 32 million.
Given these statistics, Afghanistan has 123 state-run addiction treatment centres to potentially serve the over two million addicts. In response to this deficit, the government recently converted a NATO military base into a rehab centre to address Afghanistan’s heroin addiction crisis.
Located in the capital city of Kabul, “Camp Phoenix,” a former military training camp set up by the U.S. army in 2003, will take in around 1,000 homeless drug addicts. In addition to receiving addiction treatment, patients are provided with safe food, clean clothing, and counselling. Reportedly, the treatment programme involves a 45-day detox followed by a period of vocational training and exit counselling.
Critics suggest that this rehab centre is a superficial public relations attempt by the Afghani government to mask their lack of control over the country’s illegal drug industry that is running rampant. Statistics regarding program completion rates and the rates of relapse are not currently available. However, a limited number of clients have reported having positive experiences while at the centre.