Dogs given heroin by lonely homeless people so they’ll stay close on cold nights
Homeless men facing a bleak winter in Taliban-ravaged Kabul are feeding heroin to the city's stray dogs so they'll stay with them and keep them warm.
Afghanistan was overtaken by the militant Islamic organisation earlier this year, sparking an uptick in violence and poverty across the country.
Most of the world's opium is grown in Afghanistan and addiction is a major problem.
Despite the Taliban vowing to ban drugs and end addiction, things are worse than ever for Kabul's homeless population who can often be seen smoking heroin on the streets of neighbourhood Shahr-e Naw.
The class-A drug is relatively cheap and addicts spend approximately 200 Afs (£1.60) a day on the habit, Mail Online reports, often picking up recyclable items or finding customers for taxi drivers in order to earn enough money.
Homeless men have been spotted giving some of their precious heroin to the stray dogs that roam the streets, placing a plastic bottle over the animal's nose and blowing smoke through the open top.
The drug subdues the dogs with a calming effect similar to how it works in humans, meaning they're more likely to lie down and keep the men warm through the bitterly cold nights.
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Temperatures in Kabul can reach as low as -4C at this time of year, and the nights will be even colder come January.
But the dogs aren't valued just for their body heat – Kabul's heroin addicts are also in desperate need of companionship, and a docile dog provides just that.
The Taliban have been known to brutally beat or even kill citizens found with heroin, adding to the addicts' desperation and fear.
"I did not know if I used drugs my life would be like this and I would lose my family," one man who has been using heroin for eight months told the Mail Online.
"I've memorised the Quran. I'm not a bad person, I'm in a deep well I can't get out of."
While the men's habit of feeding dogs heroin might benefit them, experts say it's likely doing the animals enormous harm.
In 2016 a shocking viral video showed a dog in Kabul exhibiting worrying symptoms of drug addiction withdrawal, rubbing her head against a bridge near where she lived among homeless addicts.
'She was very weak and could not walk properly,' local vet Dr. Mujtaba Rezaei told The Dodo at the time.
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'She was so dependent on the drugs that she would bang her head against the wall if she didn't get her 'fix'.'
The dog, named Nesha, was eventually weaned off the drug by professionals and was re-homed for a new chance at life.
While little research has been done into the effects of opioids on dogs, scientists believe the animals would experience similar effects as humans including a sense of euphoria and a lowered heart rate.
There's also a risk that they could develop hypoxia from reduced oxygen levels which can have devastating consequences like brain damage and organ failure.
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