Afghan Women and Kids Fight Drug Addiction

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CBS

Najiba's four kids Karima, Marjabin, Naqibullah and Hila range in age from 4 to 13. Like her, they are all opium addicts, reports CBS News correspondent Mandy Clarke from Afghanistan.

"I started taking opium more than a decade ago," Najiba says, "when my 7-year-old son was killed by a truck."

She started giving it to her children to keep them from shivering in the winter. They've all had treatment before, but poverty lead them back to drugs.

Najiba says opium, which she boils as a tea to suppress hunger pains, is cheaper than a meal and brings her family some happiness.

There are few treatment centers for women and children in Afghanistan, but family addiction is a growing problem because few get help and many relapse.

There are 1 million drug addicts in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations. But drug counselors say the true number is at least double, with women and children making up a quarter of all addicts. The stimga of drug abuse makes it a hidden problem.

"Even Afghans aren't aware of this problem, most people thought we were producers not consumption," said Mohammad Zafar, Deputy Minister of Counter-Narcotics.

When it comes to producing heroin, Afghanistan is unrivaled with over 90 percent of the world's supply, according to a recent United Nations study.

Dr. Toorpaikay Zazai runs the family treatment center where she treats more than a hundred children in west Kabul. She says children get addicted quicker and it's harder for them to quit.

"For every addicted mother, there are on average four addicted children," Zazai says. "If something isn't done today, the country will lose a generation to drugs."

Najiba's oldest child, 13-year-old Karima, is worried as well. She's recently started taking opium on her own.

"I'm concerned my family will be addicts all their lives," she says.

The family is planning to return to rehab. Karima hopes this time she'll beat the odds and become a normal teenage girl. But that will be difficult in a country which is the world's largest producer of opium poppies.