Excessive production and abuse of drugs is ravaging to any country’s people as it leads to poor health, unstable behavior, increased crime and unemployment. Afghanistan is one such country. It is a major producer and consumer of opium and heroin which is detrimental for the country as it’s high, affordable narcotics production and years of war trauma make its citizens turn to drugs for comfort because of insufficient education and resulting unemployment. Furthermore there are only 90 drug treatment centers nationally and most of them are small, underfunded with less staff.
The militant Taliban also counters efforts to crush the opium trade as they profit from sales and crop tax. In fact, the UNODC estimates that the Taliban earned $700 million from the 2011 poppy harvest. With 50% of opium using parents giving their children opium and the main source of income especially for farmers being opium and heroin, the situation looks bleak for Afghanistan . South Africa understands the importance of ending drug abuse as 11 % of its population suffers the ill effects of drugs.
The reasons for this are similar to Afghanistan’s namely poverty, high unemployment and cheap availability of drugs. However unlike Afghanistan, South Africa has more effective drug abuse prevention plans in place. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) together with the Department of Social Development has started a toll free substance abuse helpline to support and treat drug users. Youth empowerment through education especially of teenagers aims at drug use prevention rather than a cure. The South African National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (SANCA) also has similar aims to that of Sadag. They have adolescent centres, in and out patient treatment and prevention programmes. South Africa proposes the following solutions that:
1) Afghanistan should be provided with more hospitals, drug rehabilitation centres and pharmaceuticals by the WHO, especially in rural areas. 2) Opium and heroin prices should be hiked so that they’re unaffordable. 3) Schools should teach children about the importance of health and the ill effects of drugs. 4) Farmers should be encouraged to grow more cash crops like castor beans, sugar beets, cotton instead of poppy. 5) Afghanistan’s lithium, gemstones and iron ore potential should be harnessed. This will help create job opportunities and prevent unemployment. 6) Drug addict refugees from Iran and Pakistan should only be allowed into Afghanistan once they’ve abstained completely from drugs.