© AJ Wilhelm
This series of photographs documents young men in Kabul who are living as homeless opium addicts in a structure built by the Russians to house operas, ballets and music concerts. The building was decimated during tribal fighting of the Afghan civil war and sometimes shelters as many as 400 addicts. Most of these men have the same story of addiction–they snuck into Iran to work in fields or weave carpets or do other back-breaking labor and became addicted when they started smoking opium to ease their physical pains. Deportation inevitably forces them back to Afghanistan where they travel to Kabul desperate as full blown addicts begging and stealing to buy more opium. There isn’t much hope or help and many health officials fear that more addicts will start using the drug intravenously, a more dangerous but cheaper route, as eradication efforts threaten to drive up the street price. See more from AJ’s series here.