Sylhet, Bangladesh, 2013
Geographically, Bangladesh represents an epicentre for the use of narcotics in Asia. Imported from Afghanistan is heroin, from India, Fensodil and from Thailand and Burma, Speed and Ecstasy. Coupled with Bangladesh’s local cannabis industry, the country is surrounded by narcotics and exemplary of this is the city of Sylhet – where proximity to the border exacerbates this influence and up to 65% of Sylheti families are involved with a substance addiction.Sylhet’s wealth, funded by expat remittances from the UK and America furthers the problem by providing privileged youth with disposable income. This body of work provides a glimpse into one of the seven drug rehabilitation centres in Sylhet and the lives of those who fight to regain a life prior to addiction.
20-year-old Zahangiir is a drug user living in Sylhet. He moved to the area to work a construction contract for three years, sending money to his family 700km away. However, two thirds of his monthly pay cheque funds his addiction to Fensodil - a cough medicine smuggled from India that is illegal in Bangladesh. Zahangiir lives and sleeps at the site he works on and his food is supplied by the construction company. He tries to send at least 4000BDT($51 US) home to his four brothers and two sisters per month but due to his addiction, sometimes this amount is reduced to zero.
38-year-old Ashok Ali was an expat of Sylhet living in the UK where he developed an addiction to Cannabis. He lost his wife, son, house, car and spent time in prison before his family paid for his return to a drug rehab centre in Sylhet. Ashok was taken straight from the airport to the rehab centre where he will stay for three and half months with no access to the outside world and limited visits from family.