Narcotics | 13 October 2016, 08:37
Below the Pol-e Sokhta bridge on the western outskirts of the Afghan capital, hundreds of homeless drug addicts live in squalor.
The smell of human waste and smoke from opium pipes fills the air. Some people who do not live in the filth cannot resist their curiosity, so they come by to stare.
Mohammad, 24, who like many addicts would give only his first name, was born and raised as a refugee in neighboring Iran. He lived under the bridge for three years after he was deported to Afghanistan, a place he barely knew.
He says he became addicted to crystal methamphetamine while living in Iran and began smoking heroin when he couldn't secure work or a place to live.
"I knew that living there under the bridge, through the rains and the snow, surrounded by the putrid smells of garbage sitting atop the dirt and mud wasn't life," Mohammad said. "It was like being an animal in the wild."
But now Mohammad is among the first group of homeless addicts admitted to Ibn Sina, the largest drug treatment facility in Afghanistan, which has accepted more than 650 people since opening in January.
The facility, formerly known as Camp Phoenix, was one of the largest U.S. military bases during the war in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but has been converted by the Afghan government.
It can house up to 1,500 addicts for a 45-day detoxification and rehabilitation program, said Ahmad Fawad Osmani, director of the Drug Demand Reduction Department of the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.
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