Even though Afghan poppy yields last year declined 19% from a record harvest in 2007, according to the United Nations, it was still the second-highest since 1994.
Last month, an 8-year-old boy and his 3-year-old sister were being treated for opium addiction while their mother underwent detox, said Huma Mansoori, one of two doctors at the Sanga Amaj drug treatment center for women.
The center, which opened in 2007, was Afghanistan's first rehab facility for women. It still is the only one in Kabul; there are three centers elsewhere.
Tajwara, 35, a mother of nine, said her husband gave her opium when she was ill. She was addicted for several years until she sought treatment last month at the Sanga Amaj center.
"I didn't know smoking opium was bad for me," Tajwara said. "People said it was medicine. If I had known it would ruin my life, I never would have tried it."
Shekiba, a slender girl of 15, covered her face in shame as she described how her father got her addicted to opium when she was 12.
"I knew opium was wrong, but I couldn't control it on my own," Shekiba said. She had just completed a drug detoxification program, along with several other women stricken with vomiting and diarrhea from withdrawal.
Although male addicts smoke and shoot up fairly openly, women almost always use drugs at home. And though men can seek treatment on their own, women must get permission from husbands or fathers to enter rehab programs.
"Afghan culture puts great shame on women who use drugs," said Dr. Torpikay Zazai, director of the women's center. "Men are ashamed of their women if they're addicted. They want to hide it in the home, and not let their women out for treatment."
Women tend to smoke opium or drink it in tea, but they rarely use heroin, Zazai said. Men favor heroin, though many also smoke opium.
At the former cultural center, men smoke and shoot up day and night. The floors are littered with syringes, garbage and human waste. What appear to be corpses line the dank hallways, but the forms are actually addicts sleeping off highs. Many of the men wear filthy shalwar kameez, the traditional Afghan tunics and pants. A few are dressed in clean shirts and slacks -- "day trippers" who stop by to smoke, then return to work.
Abdullah Gaafar, 21, sat smoking amid the stench of urine. He said he smokes heroin at least twice a day, more often if he can raise money from odd jobs.
Neither his family nor his fiancee knows he's an addict, Gaafar said.
"I'm ashamed of what I've become. I need to go to the treatment center," he said, his voice trailing off as the heroin took effect.
Rezaie, 27, the addict with the lice and infected foot, said he started doing drugs at 14, working in Iran. He pays for the heroin by begging.
"The people insult me a lot," he said. When he tries to buy bread, he said, bakers tell him: "I'm a drug addict and I shouldn't get bread -- I should die."`
Four addicts died in the complex last winter, said Rezaie, who appeared close to death himself.
He shrugged and put a flame to the foil beneath his heroin. "I feel tired if I don't smoke," he said. "I feel like destroying myself."
A week later at the Wadan men's drug treatment center a few blocks away, addicts fresh off the street squatted on the floor of a bare detox room. With their shaved heads and pale uniforms, they looked like prison inmates.
The addicts spend 10 days in detox and 20 more receiving medical treatment, drug counseling and religious education. An imam is on staff, and there are regular prayer sessions.
The newest arrival that day was Jaffer, the addict who had been injected in the neck at the abandoned cultural center a week earlier. His head freshly shaven, he vowed to get clean, stay clean and reunite with his family.
"I have made a mistake," he said, "and I must make up for it."
Stanekzai, Wadan's project manager, has heard such promises before. Surrounded by a roomful of addicts, each solemnly swearing off drugs, he was asked whether some of those earnest young men might go right back to the wrecked cultural center after completing the program.
"Of course," he replied.