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Old 09-02-2006, 05:15 PM   #1
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Ritalin - is America's Opium?

or

Opium is Afghanistan's Ritalin

Quote:
Afghanistan's opium babies

Kheyamadin is fed opium every morning and eveningAfghanistan's opium babies
by Rajeshree Sisodia in Labjartara, Afghanistan

Saturday 02 September 2006 7:03 AM GMT


Three-month-old Kheyamadin is a docile baby. Lying cocooned in the traditional Afghan Turkmen bright hues of tight silk swaddling clothes, he rarely cries. But the reason for his calm demeanour is not a pacifier, toy or milk - it is opium.

"I feed him opium, [otherwise] he cries all the time," says his 25-year-old mother Bolde Jamalgate as she holds him. The mother of four refuses to look up or unveil herself from her pristine white burqa.

Bolde feeds the youngest of her four children opium each morning and evening by placing tiny pieces of the narcotic into his mouth or mixing small quantities into milk or water, a daily ritual which has continued since he was born.

Giving Kheyamadin the drug gives her time to tend to the housework and care for her other sons, now four, five and seven, all of whom she fed opium to when they were babies.

She lives with her husband, 37-year-old Mola Hiyaruddin and her brother-in-law's family in a three-room home, on 60 hectares of land divided equally between the two brothers growing wheat, cotton and vegetables.

Around 200 Turkmen families live in the isolated farming community of Labjartara, a two-and-half hour drive from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which straddles Afghanistan's borders with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Parched scrubland dots the flat, dry plains as far as the eye can see. Shepherds keep a careful eye on goats and sheep while camels and mud brick homes help paint the panorama dust brown. The occasional tree blossom punctuates the vast, cloudless sky like candy floss while burnt-out Soviet tanks hint at the region's volatile past.

Opium province

The village lies on the northern edges of Balkh province, one of Afghanistan's largest producers of opium according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Kheyamadin and his 25-year-old
mother Bolde Jamalgate
Although the area is renowned for its cultivation of opium, Bolde's brother-in-law Abdul Karim pleads ignorance when asked where the drugs given to Kheyamadin come from.

Feeding small children opium is a practice which stems back centuries in Afghanistan, particularly among Ismaili communities in the northeastern province of Badakhshan and Turkmen families in the north of the country.

Afghan Turkmens, who form around 1.8 million of the country's 30 million people, are also renowned for their elaborate carpets.

"Whenever babies cry, we feed them opium, it's usual, just to make them calm and quiet. If you give it too often you get bad side effects like vomiting," says Abdul, a 46-year-old farmer who seems oblivious to the fact that feeding children opium could cause long-term harm.

Figures obtained from the UNODC reveal that as many as 60,000 children in Afghanistan regularly use drugs, including opium. Anecdotal evidence from doctors at a clinic in the southern city of Kandahar indicates that at least 25 children at the hospital died of opium overdoses in the last several years.

Opium-carpet link

In its latest report, the UNODC said 86% of the world's opium comes from Afghanistan.

Some women feed their children
opium so they can weave carpets
And there is also a strong link between opium growing - and consumption - in the country and its third largest export industry: Carpet weaving.

For many carpet-weaving women, opium has become a tool as vital as the looms they weave with; a narcotic they take not only to relieve the pain and physical discomfort of hours of carpet-making but also a drug they give to their children so they can weave and do housework.

Carpet-seller Abdul Hakim is one of scores of merchants to buy carpets from Turkmen communities which he then sells in his shop Qalinfroshi, in Mazar-i-Sharif, a commercial hub second only to Kabul for the scale of its carpet-selling industry.

Piles of lambs' wool rugs and carpets compete for attention in his tiny shop, huddled in the centre of the city among clusters of other carpet-sellers. He sits cross-legged on the floor sipping Afghan tea.

"Maybe some people placate their babies [by feeding them opium] because we have lots of opium growing in our country," says the 32-year-old father of two.

Jehanzeb Khan, drug demand reduction expert at UNODC Afghanistan which has joined the Afghan Government to run drug treatment and prevention programmes in six of the country's provinces, says identifying how widespread the practice of feeding opium to babies is, is proving to be a challenge.

"I have to do the housework and have other children to look after so I do this. My mother did it to me, it's no big thing"

Bolde Jamalgate,
Kheyamadin's mother
"If proper health facilities are not provided and people are not educated about the bad effects of this practice, it will certainly increase ... drug abuse treatment is not an easy task," he told Aljazeera.net.

But he believes the custom can be changed by raising awareness and providing families with access to adequate healthcare.

"We are trying to establish ownership of the problem by the communities and they should do this themselves. We will train them in skills in drug abuse prevention and treatment."

Tradition

But until then, it is unlikely Bolde will refrain from feeding opium to any other children she may have.

"I have to do the housework and have other children to look after so I do this. My mother did it to me, it's no big thing," she says.

Cradled in her arms, the deep emerald silk of Kheyamadin's skullcap frames his round face and his eyes appear glazed.

Outside the winds that plague the far-reaching plains of northern Afghanistan rage on, but the child seems oblivious, in his own private world.
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Old 09-02-2006, 09:16 PM   #2
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No big thing...Jesus. Besides the blatant wonrg of giving an infant opium, this kind of thing pisses me off because it is lazy parenting. I appreciate it is probably too easy to disregard a mother of 4 boys as lazy, when she takes shortcuts, but this is one for sure. I suspect the fact that she has a workload far more than one person can manage, while living with 2 entire families in a 3 bedroom house while maintaining said house AND being expected to make carpets, is her actual problem. Not her son crying. That's what babies do. If it isn't colic or some other medical reason, then it's one of the usual.

Doping her baby is not helping her real problem.
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:00 PM   #3
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These women are uneducated, can't read and probably have very little understanding of what this does to an infant's system or his longterm well-being. What a sad social statement it is all around.
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Old 09-02-2006, 10:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem
Doping her baby is not helping her real problem.
Well, I think we've got larger problems than mere "lazy parenting" here.

Quote:
Feeding small children opium is a practice which stems back centuries in Afghanistan, particularly among Ismaili communities in the northeastern province of Badakhshan and Turkmen families in the north of the country.
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Old 09-03-2006, 05:24 AM   #5
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Quote:


Feeding small children opium is a practice which stems back centuries in Afghanistan, particularly among Ismaili communities in the northeastern province of Badakhshan and Turkmen families in the north of the country
It was also a common practice in many other countries including early Victorian England. One effect of colonialism was the trade of huge amounts of opium to Britain which was readily available in advertised off the shelf remedies. Babies were often given opium based drinks to soothe them and make them sleep. It was only when the sale of opium was regulated in the latter 1800s that the practice stopped. Afterwards whisky was often used to soothe babies by rubbing it on their gums - a practice which apparently continued until a couple of generations ago. I've also heard of parents nowadays who use anti-histimine medicines to help get their children to sleep without any medical need.
It's bad enough if parents aren't aware of the side effects and don't realise they're doing any wrong -abhorrent if they are.
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Old 09-03-2006, 09:54 AM   #6
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What would the possible longterm neurological (or other) effects of giving a baby opium be? I know that it causes physical dependency, not sure about other consequences. Just wondering.
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Old 09-04-2006, 12:26 PM   #7
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Opiates will slow the digestive process, affecting the infant's absorption of nutrients.






















































would affect the absorbtion od nutriens
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Old 09-04-2006, 02:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by anitram
These women are uneducated, can't read and probably have very little understanding of what this does to an infant's system or his longterm well-being. What a sad social statement it is all around.
Very true. And didn't people in the west put a little liquor in babies' bottles not too long ago?
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Old 09-04-2006, 05:34 PM   #9
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We have treated Ritalin as if it's some kind of miracle drug. As a result, kids are not acting like kids, but rather, they've turned into human vegetables. Kids cannot have their childhoods taken away from them just because some parent or teacher thinks they're hyper. It's in their nature to run around, so let them.
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Macfistowannabe
We have treated Ritalin as if it's some kind of miracle drug. As a result, kids are not acting like kids, but rather, they've turned into human vegetables. Kids cannot have their childhoods taken away from them just because some parent or teacher thinks they're hyper. It's in their nature to run around, so let them.
you may be on to something

it is easy for us
to condemn the Afghan's actions

and not even question
choices made by many Americans
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Old 09-04-2006, 07:44 PM   #11
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My father has narcalepsy. In 1986 ritalin was such a controlled drug my mother could not pick up his script for him.

It is fucking insane how many BOYS are being drugged in this country.
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Old 09-04-2006, 10:44 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox


It is fucking insane how many BOYS are being drugged in this country.
I used to nanny full time for four kids and the six year old boy was on Ritalin when I started. It was so sad, instead of being active and hyper (yeah, he was way hyper, but he was a SIX YEAR OLD BOY), he would sit in the corner all day and mope. Luckily the mom took him back to the Dr. and they had to put him on anti-depressants. He acted almost bi-polar: one minute he was crying to himself or falling asleep and the next minute he was ramming his head into the TV or trying to do a flip by running up the wall. I think the drug combos only made it worse.
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