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Chance of a new life for Afghanistan's drug addicts at Kabul clinic

This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows patients in their dormitory at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period,
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows patients in their dormitory at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows patients walking in the staircase at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment pe
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows patients walking in the staircase at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows patients relaxing in their dormitory, at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatmen
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows patients relaxing in their dormitory, at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows patients reading prayers, in the early morning at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows patients reading prayers, in the early morning at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows two patients waiting while a security guard checks their bag of bananas for any hidden things that are not allowed, delivered to them by relatives at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows two patients waiting while a security guard checks their bag of bananas for any hidden things that are not allowed, delivered to them by relatives at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows the cooks in the kitchen before serving breakfast at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 d
This picture taken on February 20, 2014, shows the cooks in the kitchen before serving breakfast at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This picture taken on February 27, 2014 shows patients eating dinner at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cur
This picture taken on February 27, 2014 shows patients eating dinner at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This picture taken on February 27, 2014 shows a cook praying before to serve the dinner to patients (not seen) at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug us
This picture taken on February 27, 2014 shows a cook praying before to serve the dinner to patients (not seen) at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP 
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows a patient  having a daily check up by a doctor on his bed in a dormitory, at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that r
This picture taken on February 23, 2014, shows a patient  having a daily check up by a doctor on his bed in a dormitory, at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP
This picture taken on February 27, 2014, shows a patient taking his medecine before bed time at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days
This picture taken on February 27, 2014, shows a patient taking his medecine before bed time at the Jangalak hospital in Kabul. The Jangalak hospital is a government runned hospital with a capacity of 300 beds, that receives drug users for a 45 days treatment period, to cure their addiction on different types of drugs, mostly heroin. -- PHOTO: AFP

KABUL (AFP) - It is a spartan life of dormitory beds, communal eating and prayer, but the Jangalak treatment centre in Kabul offers a rare glimmer of hope for heroin addicts caught in Afghanistan's spiralling drug problem.

About 250 male addicts at a time undergo a 45-day course at the government centre, with 70 per cent of all patients successfully staying off heroin after they leave.

Earlier this year, the United Nations drug and crime agency chief Yury Fedotov described the rapid rise of drug addiction in Afghanistan as a "national tragedy" in a country that is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw form of heroin.

Efforts to cut opium production have failed completely in the 13 years since United States-led forces arrived in Afghanistan, with Taleban insurgents often benefiting from the lucrative trade.

The latest UN survey has found that opium poppy cultivation rocketed to record levels last year with a 36 per cent increase compared with 2012.

Addiction levels have also risen sharply - from almost nothing under the 1996-2001 Taleban regime, to more than one million heroin addicts today, according to UN figures.

Patients at Jangalak often arrive filthy, unkempt and mentally distressed.

They are washed, shaved and issued with new clothes before their treatment begins.

Doctors supervise medication as the addicts detoxify. The daily routine includes psychological support, regular exercise, games and prayer sessions.

Staff say the bonds that develop between recovering addicts are crucial to their chances of rebuilding their lives.

AFP photographer Nicolas Asfouri followed some course members attending the clinic.

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