From NPR, reporter Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson tells us some of the factors that have contributed to the increase. The link also includes the audio story that aired on NPR, as well as some graphic actualities from addicts and their children.
Experts say that the alarming trend is not being addressed by the Afghan government and its international partners, even though most officials acknowledge that the drug scourge threatens lasting stability in Afghanistan.
The soaring rates of drug abuse are driven in part by Afghanistan's widespread unemployment and social upheaval under the Taliban and the U.S.-led war, begun in 2001. Another factor is the flood of returning Afghan refugees from Iran, many of whom became heroin addicts there.
And fueling it all is an overabundance of opium and heroin in Afghanistan, the world's largest cultivator of poppies in the world.
The addicts say that heroin is a cheap way to forget their miserable existence.
The U.N.'s Jean-Luc Lemahieu calls it the "Coca-Cola effect." The widespread abundance and affordability of the drugs have made them as ubiquitous and available as soft drinks.
"What people always forget is that not only demand creates supply, but supply creates demand," said Lemahieu, the representative in Kabul for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.