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GLOBALink | Drug addiction, another U.S. legacy in Afghanistan

KABUL, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- For 12 years, Shah Agha, 42, drove trucks for a U.S. company transporting supplies for U.S. forces.

Life as a trucker was an endless road of pain and suffering. He was under constant fear of violence, both from Afghan militias attacking coalition convoys and for his service as a driver for occupying forces.

"As a driver for U.S. forces and to forget my daily fears on the roads and highways, I used to smoke heroin," Agha said. "There were constant problems. I had to use something to forget my suffering."

Heroin is a big problem in Afghanistan. According to locals, farmers eagerly restarted poppy cultivation and processing heroin right under the noses of an informal alliance of foreign forces and regional warlords.

That cooperation explains how the country could become a narco-state during the presence of some 150,000-strong U.S.-led international forces. The number of drug addicts has also increased, only adding to the suffering of the poverty-stricken Afghans.

Nineteen-year-old Abu Bakr became addicted by using tablet K, a Western-made drug common among Afghan youth.

In 2015, there were about 3.5 million addicts in Afghanistan, according to Mohammad Dawod Jaihon, head of Jangalak Hospital, "This year, we have provided treatment to some 1,700 addicts and discharged them from the hospital."

Najibullah Jami, a Kabul university professor and political analyst, said that "the most tangible gift of 20 years of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is nothing more than poverty, millions of addicts and isolation of the country."

Produced by Xinhua Global Service