Libya’s Only Addiction Clinic Struggles (8 of 20)

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In the octagonal communal garden at the centre of Benghazi’s Al Nafsia drug addiction clinic four men sit quietly talking in the shade. The atmosphere of contemplation makes the clinic seem like an oasis of calm in a city where assassination attempts and armed raids are a monthly occurrence and the soundscape is regularly punctuated by gunshots and squealing tires.

Here Libyans with addiction problems are helped to kick their habits with the help of psychologists and tailor made drug courses. The only problem: this clinic has room for just 40 inpatients, and it is the only treatment centre of its kind in a country where drug addiction is rapidly increasing.

Doctors across Libya say they are being overwhelmed by patients with drug problems and it is proving impossible to provide appropriate treatment for everyone.

‘Every month more people come to us needing help,’ says Dr Abdullah Fannar, deputy director at Tripoli’s Gargaresh psychiatric hospital. ‘It’s part of the fallout from the revolution. The government security forces are weak and hundreds of thousands of Libyans were displaced, wounded or bereaved during the uprising. Now street drugs are proving to be an attractive solution to many of those who are struggling to deal with their new reality.’

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