Drug addicts have a hard life, but female addicts even find it harder.
Salima is one the thousands of victims of addiction in Balk province.
It has been three year since Salima became drug addict and now she lives in a graveyard in Dasht-e-Shor in the north of Mazar-e-Sharif city with other addicts. Salima says she underwent treatment at Abu Ali Sina Hospital of Balkh and managed to quit drugs, but the hardship of life pressed her to turn to it again.
Gul Pikai is another 35-year-old addicted woman who lives near the graveyard with her husband. She comes from Dashti Archi of Kanduz and she was also able to overcome addiction after her neighbour woman took her to hospital for treatment. Her father and father-in-law were addicted before them.
“When I came home from hospital, I found that my kids were taken away by the neighbour and refused to give them to me back arguing I was addicted. My husband and I suffered a lot and had no way but to turn to drugs again,” she told Kabul Monitor.
Seven thousand women trapped by addiction
Seven thousand women are trapped in addiction in Balk which has been one of secured provinces in the past 13 years and enjoyed reconstruction and development, but addiction is on rise here.
A survey conducted this year found that 7 thousand women are addicted to drugs in the province – the number could be even higher as many women remain hidden from public eyes.
The number of addicted women in Balkh province is huge and disturbing, and the government has paid no attention to yet, Abdul Qadir Misbah, the director of a civil society organization, the New Line, told Kabul Monitor.
The Counter Narcotics Director of Balk Mohammad Raheem Ugoli accepts that use of drug is on rise among women but rejects the figures provided the New Line Organization that conducts drug and addiction survey each year.
Attention to women
Women’s Affairs Director of Balk province Shahla Hadeed says the directorate covers addicted women in their services – a center called Shahamat collects addicted women and in addition to medicating them, train them to lean vocation such as tailoring, hand crafting, and gain basic literacy. The addicted women are not discharged until they are addiction free and have learned a vocation. That is how an addicted woman can survive addiction and avoid reversing.
Speaking with Kabul Monitor, some women at the center said they did not know the harms of drugs before and poverty and unemployment have pushed them to using drugs.
There is only one public center for the treatment of drug addiction in Balkh. Dr. Mohammad Dawod Ratib, the in charge of the 50 Beds Hospital in the Directorate of Public Health of the province told Kabul Monitor that the center could not response to the increasing need. Experts and advocates underline poverty, unemployment and literacy as the main factors of addition in the country