First published in 2005, updated in January 2015 and April 2017. The US opioid crisis broadly defined bears a relationship to the export of heroin out of Afghanistan. There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2016 that number went up to 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users).
Author’s Note and Update
Afghanistan’s opium economy is a multibillion dollar operation which feeds the surge of the US heroin market which is currently the object of debate and public concern.
In the course of the last decade, there has been a surge in Afghan opium production. In turn the number of heroin addicts in the US has increased dramatically. Is there a relationship?
“There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, before the US-NATO invasion of Afghanistan. By 2016 that number went up to 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users). Heroin deaths shot up from 1,779 in 2001 to 10,574 in 2014 as Afghan opium poppy fields metastasized from 7,600 hectares in 2001 (when the US-NATO War in Afghanistan began) to 224,000 hectares in 2016. (One hectare equals approximately 2.5 acres). Ironically, the so-called US eradication operation in Afghanistan has cost an estimated $8.5 billion in American taxpayer funds since the US-NATO-Afghan war started in October 2001.” ( See the article by Sibel Edmonds, August 22, 2017)
Afghanistan produces over 90 percent of the opium which feeds the heroin market.
In turn, the US is now sending more troops to Afghanistan.
Lest we forget, the surge in opium production occurred in the immediate wake of the US invasion in October 2001.
Who is protecting opium exports out of Afghanistan?
In 2000-2001, “the Taliban government –in collaboration with the United Nations– had imposed a successful ban on poppy cultivation. Opium production declined by more than 90 per cent in 2001. In fact the surge in opium cultivation production coincided with the onslaught of the US-led military operation and the downfall of the Taliban regime.