Drug users in Nepal are ostracised, marginalised and demonised by both Nepali society and the state. A child of 14 when she started using drugs, Soneyang's family denounced her to the police, and was thrown in jail, where she was physically abused. Today, Soneyang is 20. She is struggling to get rid of her addition, and eager to start her life.
Naresh is a former drug user living in rural Damak. At 40, he had lost everything. Yet, thanks to the Happy Nepal rehabilitation program, he is now running a farm project designed to help former users find the skills needed to find employment and a productive role in society.
Drug use in Nepal - which is increasing dramatically - has been fuelled by the social and economic upheavals which have engulfed Nepal for the last 15 years. Most government officials and police officers understand that the only way to effectively tackle this problem is, first and foremost, through interventions for drug treatment and HIV prevention programmes which safeguard the human rights of those affected. Evidence throughout the world demonstrates that interventions based on reducing the harm caused by drugs is both efficient and effective, and that drug use and HIV prevention are best managed primarily by the Ministry of Health. Failing to understand this will push Nepal towards a public health catastrophe.