Drug use, sales soar in Iraq's Basra amid nationwide spike

AP News
Posted: Jan 02, 2018 1:04 AM

BASRA, Iraq (AP) — The rows of self-harm scars that course upward on the teenager's forearms from her wrists nearly to her elbows are reminders of dark times.

At age seven, the now 19-year-old was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease that comes with painful symptoms, including inflammation of the hands and feet and frequent infections. She became a regular visitor to a hospital where she was given Tramadol, an opioid medication that brought some relief.

Eventually, though, she began obtaining the medication even when there was no pain.

She is part of a phenomenon in Iraq's southern Basra province, where illegal drug use and sales have reached previously unseen levels, mainly among youths, over the last three years.