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Afghan Man Trades Sister For Heroin

By McCarton Ackerman 04/03/14

With opium use common throughout the war-torn country, Afghanis like Abdurahim Mutar have few places to turn for addiction treatment.

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Abdurahim Mutar. Photo via

With extremely limited resources for treatment while remaining the top opium supplier in the world, Afghanistan has been dealing with the ravaging effects of drug addiction throughout the country. The country has roughly one million addicts, but only 10,000 each year are treated. Thirteen of the 34 provinces don’t even offer rehabilitation services.

The Afghan province of Balkh appears to have been hit the hardest, with one man revealing that he fed his infant children opium to keep them quiet and sold his sister to fund his heroin habit. Abdurahim Mutar, 36, said he was addicted to opiates for 13 years, but didn’t even realize the health risks at first. “When my daughter was one, we’d give her opium because she was crying a lot. She’d reject eating it but we’d give her the drugs by force,” he said. "We just weren’t aware it was dangerous or it would create health problems. If anything, we thought it would be beneficial. It’s very common here.”

But while the drugs began to take a physical and mental toll on Mutar, he deemed his heroin use necessary to treat ongoing stomach issues. Eventually, he traded his 18-year-old sister Tazagul for roughly $6,600 to fund his habit and support his family. “She accepted this. I was happy to get a lot of money for her, spending it without really thinking about where it came from,” said Mutar. “Now I wish I’d used it better, for a vehicle or some property perhaps.”

Since NATO began its War on Terror in 2001, heroin production in Afghanistan has increased 40 times and an estimated one million people have died as a result. The United Nations reported in 2012  that 15 percent of Afghanistan’s GNP, $2.4 billion each year, depends on drug-related exports. In addition, 157,000 hectares were being planted with poppies in Afghanistan that spring, up 3,000 from 2012.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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