Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

‘World’s most brutal rehab’ where Taliban send drug addicts to ‘force sobriety’

The Taliban has forced what must be the world's strict rehab regime on Afghans addicted to drugs.

Homeless addicts have their heads shaved before being placed in prison-like conditions for three months.

Worse still, they must go cold turkey.

Taliban leaders promised exactly this, vowing to crack down on the bustling opium industry in Afghanistan.

With the world's largest supply of heroin inside the country, many homeless and impoverished Afghans – particularly men – turn to the hard stuff just to get by.

In fact, Afghanistan produces nine-tenths of the world's illegal opium, the gum plant harvested from poppies to be made into heroin.

The Taliban promised to root out the country's deep-seated black market for the stuff, rounding up 150 starving addicts in Kabul's poor Guzargah neighbourhood earlier this month.

Then they were taken to the local Ibn Sina medical centre, where they spend 45 days in hell.

The hope is they'll end up better off in the end.

But that's easier said than done.

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After having their heads shaved, incredible pictures and testimony have shown, the addicts are put through their paces to get clean.

That's after they are prodded out of their comatose states by AK-47-wielding Taliban soldiers just to force them into ambulances.

The rough Kabul neighbourhoods where hard drugs thrive are typified by open sewage channels and the horrible stenches of urine, faeces, vomit and worse, France24 reported.

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A whopping 1,000 beds are ready for the addicts at Ibn Sina hospital, with the Taliban seemingly not ready to let the country's addicts sleep much longer under city centre bridges.

Doctors at the hospital said there are small supplies of methadone for heroin and opium addicts – but nothing at all for crystal meth users.

Methadone is an intense painkiller used to block the high from drugs including cocaine, morphine, heroin and more.

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It's a vital ingredient of so-called replacement therapy.

Yet even the meth addicts are hosed down, shaved and prepared for life inside.

Inmates then have all their belongings burned.

This seems unwise, particularly as Afghanistan's economy is on the brink of collapse.

Hospital staff haven't been paid in months, despite the dire conditions in which they're forced to care for the addicts.

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But it's not likely the sufferers have many belongings of value at their lowest points.

British NGO worker Mat Southwell compared the conditions to that of a concentration camp.

He told VICE: "These people are basically being kidnapped for three months and locked up. They will receive very little medical treatment and their needs will not be addressed.

"Once released, they will just start using drugs again.

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"It’s a brutal place surrounded by armed guards. It looks like a concentration camp because they shave people’s heads and make them wear pyjamas.

"When I was there I spoke to a soldier in the Afghan army who had been picked up while he was buying drugs. He was scared he would be punished for desertion."

It's certainly not clear the Taliban have long-term plans for the struggling addicts they now have responsibility for.

But their intentions are clear: root out the addicts' cravings – and the country's broader addiction – to the hard stuff.

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