KABUL, Afghanistan - With her grandfather, father, mother and a brother all addicted to opium, it's little surprise that this Afghan family's youngest member has also fallen under the drug's spell.
Except for one thing: Aria is just 15 months old.
"All the time she is crying, so I give her just a little bit of opium to go to sleep," said 30-year-old Suhaila, who goes by one name, cradling her daughter Aria in a squalid apartment block in eastern Kabul.
Opium use among all age groups is on the rise in Afghanistan, which produces more of the drug than any other nation, according to the United Nations. But in a poor country where anti-narcotics efforts are focused on combating supply, not demand, there are few places to treat addicts who need help.
"It's a big problem here, there aren't many places to go," says Mohammad Stanekzai, program manager at the Nejat rehabilitation center in Kabul, the only aid agency in the capital established specifically to help addicts. "We have 130 people on the waiting list (for in-house care), but we've only got 10 beds." ...
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Kabul is carrying out a study to determine the number of addicts in Kabul. The report has yet to be completed, but the UNODC deputy representative to Afghanistan, Adam C. Bouloukos, said one trend is clear.
"We're definitely seeing an increase in opium use — eating, smoking, injecting — particularly among refugees (in Pakistan and Iran) and returning refugees," Bouloukos says....