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August 10, 2009
Afghanistan - Village of Addicts
SARAB, Afghanistan (AP) --Open the door to Islam Beg's house and the thick opium smoke rushes out into the cold mountain air, like steam from a bathhouse. It's just past 8 a.m. and the family of six -- including a 1-year-old baby boy -- is already curled up at the lip of the opium pipe. Beg, 65, breathes in and exhales a cloud of smoke. He passes the pipe to his wife. She passes it to their daughter. The daughter blows the opium smoke into the baby's tiny mouth. The baby's eyes roll back into his head. Their faces are gaunt. Their hair is matted. They smell. In dozens of mountain hamlets in this remote corner of Afghanistan, opium addiction has become so entrenched that whole families -- from toddlers to old men -- are addicts. The addiction moves from house to house, infecting entire communities cut off from the rest of the world by glacial streams. From just one family years ago, at least half the people of Sarab, population 1,850, are now addicts. (13 images)

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Sarab village resident and opium addict Islam Beg, center, heats up a few grams of opium during an early morning smoke in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan on July 13. "I don't have a life. I don't have anything. It's finished. Everything was spent on opium," said Beg, whose family members are also addicted. In dozens of mountain hamlets in this remote corner of Afghanistan, opium addiction has become so entrenched that whole families _ from toddlers to old men _ are addicts. AP / Julie Jacobson


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The morning sun lights up the village of Sarab, nestled in a narrow river valley at 8,000 feet above sea level, in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. In dozens of mountain hamlets in this remote corner of Afghanistan, opium addiction has become so entrenched that whole families _ from toddlers to old men _ are addicts. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village residents walk down a dirt path from one section of the village to the next in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan on July 12. Sitting at roughly 8,000 feet above sea level and as the last village up a glacial river valley, makes travel on rough roads to far away clinics and doctors difficult. "Opium is our doctor," say resident addicts who use the narcotic to alleviate symptoms of illness.In dozens of mountain hamlets in this remote corner of Afghanistan, opium addiction has become so entrenched that whole families _ from toddlers to old men _ are addicts. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident and opium addict Islam Beg talks about his living conditions after having an early morning smoke in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistanon on July 13. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident Jan Begum pauses between hits while smoking opium in her home in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. "I've been smoking opium for 18 years," said Begum who sent her 14-year-old son out to work for the drug dealers to help pay for the narcotic. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident and opium addict Islam Beg, puts away what's left of his stash of opium after having an early morning smoke in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident and opium addict Jan Begum smokes opium in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan on July 12. "This helps with my asthma," said Begum who has no money or transportation to travel to a doctor or clinic. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Women family members in the house of Islam Beg smoke opium together in the village of Sarab in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan on July 13. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident and opium addict Islam Beg, center, offers his opium pipe to his grandson after having an early morning smoke in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident Raihan comforts her 1-year-old son after having an early morning opium smoke with family members in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. Raihan was addicted to opium while pregnant with her son making him an addict at birth. "When he was born, he would cry day and night. But when she blows smoke in his face, he sleeps," said her father Islam Beg. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Bits of burnt opium are scattered on a metal board with a tea light candle and matches used to heat the narcotic for smoking by Sarab village resident Jan Begum in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident Raihan, far right, scrubs the top of the oven as her mother and children watch after having an early morning opium smoke with family members in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. "I didn't have breakfast. I can accept hunger, but not without opium," Raihan said. AP / Julie Jacobson



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Sarab village resident and opium addict Islam Beg, puts on his shoes to go work in a potato field after having an early morning smoke in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. "I sold my land. I do daily labor for it. I sold my chickens and cows for it," said Beg, whose family members are also addicted. AP / Julie Jacobson



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