Afghan Heroin: The Lost War Documentary

Posted on: May 29, 2011

I was really surprised when I came across the documentary “Afghan Heroin: The Lost War,” as it was the first time I had heard anything about heroin coming out of Afghanistan. Since  I’ve always been impressed with National Geographic’s drug documentaries in the past, and I knew so little about the topic, I watched it without hesitation.

I was honestly stunned after the first 30 minutes, as it turns out that Afghanistan is quickly becoming the world supplier of heroin. It is responsible for more than 90% of the heroin on the streets of Britain, with an increasing amount turning up on the streets of the US. While Afghanistan used to be known for its export of melons, the war raging in the country for the past decade has left the population impoverished, and growing a drug crop is a cheap way to keep themselves and their families fed.

While the government in Afghanistan is doing what it can to destroy the drug crops, there is a great deal of corruption at all levels of drug enforcement, which leads to less than 10% of the drug crop being found and destroyed each year.

The documentary did a great job setting the stage of this reality, interviewing both farmers and experts on why the heroin trade is continuing to grow in Afghanistan, and how it is impacting heroin use across the globe, specifically in Europe and the UK. Unfortunately, in trying to prove how Afghan heroin is impacting drug users in different parts of the world, the documentary makes a very noticeable detour.

Instead of continuing to discuss Afghan heroin specifically, the second half of the documentary deals with heroin addiction, and how it ruins lives. This portion of the documentary is still very well done, but it seemed to deviate from the topic of Afghan heroin, which is what the documentary was supposed to be about.

While the documentary did emphasize that Afghan heroin is of purer quality (enabling users to get high more quickly) and cheaper than many other forms of heroin, and therefore is responsible for increased drug use, it didn’t seem like a strong enough link to the original topic.

But again, the documentary as a whole was very well done, even if the second half doesn’t really match the first. It is definitely worth a watch, especially if you like documentaries that cover substance abuse, and you don’t know much about the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

You can watch the documentary here, or you can watch the embedded version below.


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