Former Drug Czar Warns of Growing Heroin Use Among Troops in Afghanistan
Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who served as U.S. drug czar under President Bill Clinton, says more U.S. soldiers will abuse heroin and terrorists will remain in Afghanistan if opium crops in the region are not destroyed, the Palm Beach Post reported May 20.
McCaffrey, who spoke at a National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers conference last week, said that illicit drug abuse among soldiers has doubled over the last four years and predicted that heroin abuse will increase as the U.S. focuses on Afghanistan.
“I know there are 9,000 metric tons of opium raised every year in Afghanistan, and I’d be astonished if we don’t see soldiers who find 10 kilograms of heroin and pack it up in a birthday cake and send it home to their mother with a note that says, ’Don’t open this package until I’m home,’” McCaffrey said. “That’s one thing that’s going to happen.”
McCaffrey said heroin trafficking is directly linked to the Taliban. “If you don’t separate opium production money from the terrorism problem, the warlords, the criminals, you can’t build a nation-state in Afghanistan, period,” he said.
McCaffrey also described drug treatment as a necessary part of national healthcare reform, and cited the need for rehabilitation programs for drug users in prison.