Shayan Sajadian – Addiction in Iran

For hundreds of years, drugs have been effecting social, economical and political life in Iran. UN considers Iran to be in one of the worst addiction crises in the world. Iranians consume more than two tons of drugs each day. According to government statistics, three million Iranians use drugs regularly, but it is said that in reality the numbers are higher. Nearly half of prisoners in Iran are imprisoned due to drug charges. Government believes the solution is heavy sentences therefore hundreds of people are executed each year due to drug charges in Iran. Economic downturn and social oppression are among the main causes of this crisis. This crisis affects people from every social class and because of Iran’s economic downturn in the last previous years, the number of drug addicts has increased significantly.

Another reason for high addiction rates in Iran is the neighboring country, Afghanistan, which is the biggest opium producer in the world, and that one of the main drug transit routes from Afghanistan to Europe passes through Iran. But instead of solving the problem, the government covers it up.
This collection, is the result of the photos I took of addicts from January 2017 to June 2019 in Shiraz, one of the major cities in Iran. My goal was to demonstrate the conditions of addicts who make up an invisible part of the society and are ignored by the public, and the impact of drugs on their lives.


1- Soraya had to go to Shiraz for work and got addicted there. She is now homeless and ashamed to go back to her city and her family. (fake name)
2- Maryam has been a heroin addict for six years and is homeless. She has covered herself with plastic to avoid getting wet in rain.
3- A drug dealer has a few pipes in her hands for sale. Pipe is a tool for smoking meth.
4- A group of criminals and drug dealers are drinking alcohol. Drinking alcohol is illegal in Iran.
5- A group of homeless addicts have gathered around a fire to stay warm in cold weather.
6- Hossein is addicted to meth and heroin and lives in a public bathhouse and is smoking a cigarette in its locker room. In the past, Iranians used to have a number of public bathhouses in every city but now every house has a bathroom, leaving most public bathhouses abandoned.
7- Two addicted women smoking meth and heroin. They are prostitutes and also sell drugs.
8- Javad and his friend live in an abandoned house. His friend’s wife has left him because of financial problems and he hasn’t seen his daughter in five years. While he is crying, he wishes to see his daughter for one last time.
9- A pregnant woman, who’s addicted to heroin, collects garbage to sell. One way that addicted and homeless people use to earn a living is gathering and selling garbage.
10- He’s 13 and his father committed suicide by hanging himself, he’s been addicted for a year and has left his house and sells drugs for a living.
11- Three young addicts are smoking heroin in a ruin in suburbs. The government drives the addicts to suburbs in order to keep them away from the city.
12- Two couples sitting together in an alley. One woman is painting her nails and the other one is smoking heroin with her partner under a veil. Women engage in sexual relationships with men to gain financial support.
13- Knife scars on the neck of a drug dealer who was Drug trafficking related violence.
14- Hossein is a war veteran and has fought for 23 months in the Iran-Iraq war. He was physically injured in war and developed mental problems after it and faced financial problems after the war. He turned to drugs because of his mental and financial problems. There are people in Iran who have turned to drugs due to the problems that the war caused them.
15- Some addicts like to keep pets for different reasons. Some of these animals become addicted to drugs due to the amount of drugs they inhale.