Dr. Hendrée Jones, director of UNC Horizons, works tirelessly every day to help mothers and children struggling with substance use disorders. Endeavors magazine looks at her work as it goes global.
A 6-year-old girl in Campinas, Brazil is addicted to crack. A destitute mother in Kabul, Afghanistan feeds her children opium.
Welcome to the side of drug addiction we don’t hear about, and almost never see. This is where UNC psychologist Hendreé Jones works every day.
In a small village in Afghanistan, a man forces his wife to weave carpets for 18 hours a day. Her hands become rigid and unbearably sore from the repetitive motion and constant overuse. Her husband gives her opium—it relieves her pain, but it also keeps her under his control. She slips into a relaxed, semi-lucid state. To calm her rambunctious young children, she gives them opium as well.
“She was forced to weave carpets, and be a drug user, and take care of her children, and take care of the entire home in terms of food, water—everything,” Jones, a UNC psychologist and drug addiction expert, explains.
For women in Afghanistan, these circumstances are not unique. When each day presents harsh challenges, using opiates can make the burden seem a little less heavy.
How do you help an entire family addicted to opium?
That’s the question the U.S. Department of State posed to Jones in 2009. Then they asked, “would you be willing to go to Afghanistan?”
“Yes,” she said. “I’d love to go.”