How the US military’s opium war in Afghanistan was lost The US has spent $1.5m (£1.15m) a day since 2001 fighting the opium war in Afghanistan. So why is business still booming? It’s November 2017. The night vision camera shows a network of streets in a town in Helmand province, the poppy-growing centre of Afghanistan. The camera wheels around the targets before the missiles come arcing in.