China’s new opium wars: Battling addiction in Beijing

She tried to stop. She even came up with a strategy: For every three days she was using, she would spend three days clean.

“During that time, I would stare at the clock every day until the last minute of the third day. Then I would storm out to find drugs,” she says. “I felt as if my whole body was being torn apart.”

As China began to enjoy greater prosperity, Shirley, a Beijing resident, got swept up in the growing heroin craze. This feature, written for Al Jazeera, chronicles her journey through addiction and back, to show how difficult it can be to find treatment in China. The country has a legacy of battling addiction that stretches back for centuries, and that history, Shirley explains, has left a heavy burden on recovering addicts.

Experts like Shen Tingting, from the non-profit Asia Catalyst (pictured above), weigh in on what can be done to help connect drug users with treatment. You can read the full story here, on Al Jazeera’s website.

This article was named a “must read” by the Council on Foreign Relations.

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