Annual meth seizure totals in Afghanistan have experienced a significant surge from 2019 to 2021, signaling a rise in methamphetamine production within the country. However, due to a lack of data, the exact value of Afghanistan’s meth supply, production quantities, and domestic usage remain unknown.
Angela Me, the chief of the UNODC’s Research and Trend Analysis Branch, explains that meth production in Afghanistan has advantages over heroin or cocaine manufacturing. It does not require waiting for crops to grow or the need for significant areas of land. Meth labs are also mobile and easily concealed. Furthermore, Afghanistan has access to the ephedra plant, which is not found in other major meth-producing countries.
The Taliban-run government asserts that all cultivation, production, sale, and use of intoxicants and narcotics are prohibited in Afghanistan. In line with this, authorities have conducted raids to destroy numerous drug factories and seize vast acres of land. Despite these efforts, the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry acknowledges the challenges of completely eliminating drug activities in a short period. Eradicating narcotics, including meth, will take time.
According to a U.N. report released in November, opium cultivation has risen by 32% since the Taliban takeover. This increase has resulted in higher opium prices following a ban on cultivation. The combination of Afghanistan’s economic downturn, ongoing drought, severe economic hardship, and the consequences of war and natural disasters has driven many individuals into poverty, hunger, and addiction.
The dire situation is evident in hospitals, where approximately 20,000 people, including children and women, are receiving treatment for drug addiction. Crystal meth use is primarily responsible for this alarming statistic.
As Afghanistan continues to tackle the issue of drug production and usage, it is crucial to gather more data and implement effective measures to address the growing meth epidemic. The international community must work together to support the country in its fight against drug addiction and associated social and economic challenges.
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