CNN has a disturbing top-of-page article and photo gallery on opium addicts in rural Afghanistan, including quotes from a carpet-weaver who feeds her four-year-old son balls of opium so she can work. According to the article, three generations of addicts have been created by lack of medical care and lack of education about how addictive opium is.
The piece starts in northern Balkh Province, in a town where the nearest detox program for addicts is four and a half hours away and has twenty beds. At the detox program, the clinic director portrays opium use as traditional and common in this part of rural Afghanistan, and addiction just as common.
I would normally take little note of this piece. Its tone of tragedy tourism is so overwrought and affected that it’s hard to sort the third-word tragedies from the Western hysteria. But this happens to come on a morning when I’ve just started reading Gretchen Peters’s 2009 book Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling The Taliban and Al Qaeda.