BASRA, Iraq – The rows of self-harm scars that course upward on the teenager's forearms from her wrists nearly to her elbows are reminders of dark times.
At age seven, the now 19-year-old was diagnosed with sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease that comes with painful symptoms, including inflammation of the hands and feet and frequent infections. She became a regular visitor to a hospital where she was given Tramadol, an opioid medication that brought some relief.
Eventually, though, she began obtaining the medication even when there was no pain.
She is part of a phenomenon in Iraq's southern Basra province, where illegal drug use and sales have reached previously unseen levels, mainly among youths, over the last three years.