notes from a drug den

Whilst in Dar es Salaam working on an assignment I visited some heroin dens where users group together to either smoke or inject.

H-1

In a drug den in Dar es Salaam, plastic pockets of heroin fresh from South Asia are held up and counted by a dealer.

Heroin is the cheaper drug on offer. In East Africa it averages at around USD 2 per ‘hit’ of white crest (a crystalline powdered form of heroine). The ‘smokers’ who generally separate themselves from the ‘injectors’ will typically use the drug at least 3 times per day.

H-2

For the first hit of the day, the dealer (foreground) cuts off segments for paying clients. Each user pays up to USD 2 per segment of heroin and will typically smoke a drug cocktail at least 3 times per day.

H-5

The heroin is mixed with tobacco and marijuana to form a ‘Kokteli’. It is cooked over a flame in the final stages of preparation.

For many, sex work is a way affording the drug whilst a growing number have taken to petty crime. Estimates of how many drug users there are vary but some pointed at Dar es Salaam are as high as 50,000 drug users.

H-6

The smokers are separate from the injectors and seem to congregate in different group areas around the city. The risks that the smokers will move onto injecting are high.

A few International and local harm reduction programmes are working to mitigate the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and Tuberculosis. But whilst their role is critical their reach is indeed limited.

H-8

The grandchild of the dealer looks up as a drug user impulsively demonstrates how to inject using an empty and sterilised needle donated by a local NGO.

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