«TEHRAN — On the western outskirts of this city, in an industrial neighborhood of factories and dusty half-constructed lots, a metal-walled building houses women with a secret.
They are female drug addicts, a growing class of people with a habit so taboo in this traditional Islamic society that some Iranians believe they deserve death. But the modest facility here, a substance-abuse rehabilitation center for women, is one sign that attitudes are slowly changing as Iran begins to confront an uncomfortable problem that long went ignored.
The bulk of Afghan opium passes through Iran before it hits the global market, and that access has long contributed to addiction rates that are among the highest in the world. Now they are dramatically rising, particularly among women. Government agencies and international bodies provide conflicting statistics, but Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters estimates that 3 million of Iran’s 76 million citizens are addicts, more than 700,000 of them women — double the number two years ago.»