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ASEAN News: Drugs in Thailand Booming

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It has recently been stated that Thailand has become the leading hub in the drug trade in the ASEAN region. ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a governmental organisation that includes 10 Southeast Asian Countries. The organisation was started in August 1967 by Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, later joined by Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. ASEAN was created in an attempt to work between the various countries to improve economic growth, protect their societal values, work on regional peace and stability, and to make a platform where these countries could openly discuss disagreements peacefully.

One of the main points of cooperation between the ASEAN countries is their fight on drugs in ASEAN, and in 1976 they adopted the ASEAN Declaration of Principles to Combat the Use of Narcotic Drugs. In 1997, in a meeting between ASEAN Drug Experts, it was declared that the region would strive to be drug-free by 2020. This date was then brought forward in 2012 to being drug free by 2015.

ASEAN members developed the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters, and they implemented a policy to combat drug usage, and attempt to bring it down to zero in 2015. Their policy works on 4 different levels as seen below:

  • Education: Instruction and information about the purchase, sale and effects of drugs for all levels of society, from teachers and school children to police officers and military personnel.
  • Treatment and Rehabilitation: Well structured treatment plans that cater for all levels of income.
  • Enforcement: Strict training and implementation enforcement officers and laws to curb the production, distribution and usage of drugs.
  • Research: Research and information gathering on the effects of drugs, the best treatment methods and the most effective policies

Drugs In Thailand

 

It is clear that ASEAN has missed their goal for a drug-free zone. And Thailand is apparently leading the way. For many, drugs in Thailand convey images of tourists at full moon parties or in the mountains smoking weed or taking magic mushrooms. But the reality of the drug problem in Thailand is much harsher. Drugs in Thailand have been an on-going and long-standing problem. Recently, Justice Minister General Paiboon Kumchaya announced that there are approximately 1.3 million drug addicts in the country, which accounts for around 2% of the population in Thailand.

Widely Used Drugs in Thailand

 

The drug in Thailand that is most widely used is locally known as yaba, and they are pills that contain a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine. Literally translated, the word yaba means madness drug, and this is because of the side effects of the drug that include aggression, convulsions, tremors and paranoia. The drug is most often taken in a tablet form or injected in its pure form, which is known as “ice”.

These drugs in Thailand are usually imported across the border from Myanmar, and the high production is a result of the political conflict and instability in the region, with rebel factions selling yaba as a means to buy weapons. The borders are long, and hard to fully patrol, making it relatively easy for the drugs to be smuggled into the country.

In the recent 44th illicit-drug incineration ceremony, 7 tonnes of drugs were burnt, including 19 million yaba pills worth about 5.8 Billion Thai Baht (180 million USD) and 318 kilograms of “ice”.

How is Thailand Fighting Drug Abuse?

 

In 2002, Thailand passed the Narcotics Rehabilitation Act, which enforces anyone caught using drugs in Thailand to enter drug rehab for addiction treatment. The aim of the act is to treat drug users as patients rather than criminals. The programme has come under criticism however, from various sources. Law enforcement officers often conduct raids throughout Thailand’s young neighbourhoods in the search for possible suspects. Any unfortunate person caught in the act is forced to admit that they are addicted to drugs, or – they must produce a urine sample.

Therefore, this method relies on a one-time urine test that doesn’t separate addicts from first time or occasional users. Thus, if someone is caught smoking marijuana for the first time, they will receive the same treatment sentencing as a full-blown heroin addict. It also fails to address what kind of drug the users may be addicted to, and therefore their treatment plan may not be suited to every individual’s best interests. But these individuals are also not getting harsh sentencing into jails, where it is unlikely that their habit would improve and their chances of getting clean in a drug rehab centre are much higher. The act aims to have 10% of all addicts fully kick their habit on release.

While the sentencing for the use of drugs in Thailand has softened to include this compulsory rehab treatment, the country’s laws on possession, trafficking and distribution of drugs is still extremely harsh. The death penalty is a very real possibility if you are caught with enough drugs in Thailand to be selling or distributing them.

Drug rehabilitation in Thailand ranges from the compulsory drug treatment at government centres which is often run by charities or religious organisations, to top of the range facilities that are frequented by wealthier individuals. The latter rehab centres are purely voluntarily based and not part of the Narcotics Rehabilitation Act.

Drug-Free in 2015?

Drugs in Thailand still remain a massive problem, but there are new steps and measures being implemented to try and stop this flow of drugs in and out of the country. Education is taking place in schools and other institutions and the government is trying to get families in the community to become involved in the war on drugs in Thailand. However, the drug trade is still going strong, and drastic steps are going to have to be taken in Thailand and surrounding countries for the ASEAN target of a drug free region in 2015 to succeed.

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Violent Crimes in China: The Effects of Meth

meth use

One-third of the world’s population resides in East and Southeast Asia. And one of the biggest challenges facing these Asian countries, including China, is the manufacturing and use of synthetic drugs. In recent years, Asia has experienced a wave of synthetically produced amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), particularly of the substance methamphetamine. Synthetic drugs, also known as designer or club drugs, have become increasingly popular among younger drug users. These ATS drugs are engulfing the drug market quickly, in what people are calling Asia’s ATS Epidemic.

The Synthetic Drug Industry in South East Asia

Where once plant-based drugs such as opium or heroin topped the drug markets, synthetic drugs are quickly taking over. Synthetic drugs such as meth, ecstasy, and LSD, are man-made by chemically synthesizing and combining different precursor chemicals, and methamphetamine in Southeast Asia are spreading like wild fire. The drug most commonly used is crystal meth, notoriously known as ’ice’.

Many believe that the increase of demand of meth in China and other Southeast Asian countries is due to economic integration between regions. Synthetic drugs, unlike plant-based drugs, don’t need large areas of land to cultivate on, and are therefore easier to manufacture. ATS drugs are manufactured in laboratories around China, mostly situated around southeastern coastal areas. This is ideal for smugglers, because they can import and export precursor chemicals, as well as their manufactured stock through the harbours. Shipments are usually dispersed between many shipping containers, in order to minimize losses should any busts take place. Punishment for drug possession and trafficking in most Southeast Asian countries is severe, with most perpetrators receiving life in prison or even death.

Despite the severe penalties, however, production and distribution of ATS drugs in China is still increasing rapidly. These drugs cost little to produce and can be sold for a pretty penny, which means that many producers and traffickers find the high profit margin too appealing to resist. However, they must be creative in how their drugs are transferred around the world, and more and more cases are being reported of women, children, and under-educated persons being used as drug mules – poverty and desperation often the cause. But regardless of how the drugs are brought from point A to point B, the fact remains that meth has detrimental effects on the end user.

The Effects of Meth on the User

ATS drugs, also referred to as party drugs, have become increasingly popular as a form of entertainment amongst the younger generation, who usually have more disposable income – and less fear (or knowledge) of the effects of these drugs. However, the effects of meth on the user are catastrophic and can even be deadly. Drug addicts will often describe their meth experiences as a high that borders on euphoric. However once the experience is over, users often experience extreme depression, and feel compelled to continue using the drug to prevent an extreme crash.

Between January and September police in China recorded over 100 incidents of meth related violent crime, which is more than the last five years put together. The effects of meth make users become unpredictable, paranoid and in some cases delusional. It is the combination of these factors that make meth-users extremely violent and dangerous.

China alone was suspected of having a staggering 14 million drug users – over half of them being meth users. Dealing with meth makers and users can also be extremely dangerous for police authorities. The effects of meth include increased confidence whilst diminishing inhibitions, leaving users to defend themselves with extreme physical violence with no ‘off-switch’, leaving police officers badly injured when attempting a bust or arrest.

In China, crimes which are drug-related carry serious penalties, and offenders can be sentenced to life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Because of this many would rather fight and risk dying, than be arrested. But violence also takes place between the dealers and the users. During a drug transaction, if the addict feels cheated or threatened he may jump into a fight.

Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have all joined forces with China and agreed to work together against the escalating problem. 12.1 tonnes of drugs were recently seized by authorities and during the past 50 days, China’s police have arrested almost 24,000 people under the suspicion of drug involvement.

How Does Meth Lead to an Increase of Violence in China?

The increase of violence due to meth in China is very real. Drug smugglers and manufacturers are arming themselves with lethal weapons such as grenades and automatic guns in order to protect themselves from authorities. Many smugglers and drug syndicates are substantially more armed then the authorities themselves, making it difficult for the police to control the violence.

Smugglers are also arming themselves against other syndicates who may cross into their territories. Firefights occur on a daily basis, especially along the more popular smuggling borders such as the Burma-China Border. Many traffickers will rather risk dying in a firefight as opposed to being sentenced to a penitentiary, where they will most likely receive the death sentence.

In many villages in China, syndicates have taken control of local businesses and law enforcement, which leaves the public helpless, an unable to lawfully protect themselves. These factors all contribute to the increase of violence throughout China on a larger scale; however individuals addicted to meth also have a part to play. In comparison to traditional drugs like opium and heroin, methamphetamine can lead to extreme mental problems and violent outbursts.

The effects of meth on the brain are disastrous to an addict’s mental state. People suffering from drug addiction are prone to extreme violent behaviour. Because the mental effects of meth can be delusions, violent mood swings and hyperactivity, addicts are often quick to lash out at those around them, even their loved-ones. If a meth addict is in a state of psychosis they are more likely to be aggressive, and in a moment of desperation an addict could resort to actions such as kidnapping and murder.

As levels of substance abuse disorder increases, so does the necessity for more drug rehabs in Asia. If you or someone you know has a problem with meth addiction or other drug abuse, contact a drug rehab today.

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ASEAN Claims for a Drug-Free Continent Fail Completely

ASEAN-war-on-drugs

In 1998, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) declared that they would create a drug-free zone in Asia by the year 2015. However, opium production in the Golden Triangle (where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet) has doubled in the last ten years, now representing at least 30% of the entire world’s opium stash.

The guys at Vice take a look at why that’s happening, and what the world needs to do about it…  https://news.vice.com/article/southeast-asias-war-on-drugs-is-a-grotesque-failure-but-why-stop

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Communist Party of China Cracks Down on Drug Users

china

In light of the new guidelines put in place by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee back in June, there has been a major crack down on drug offences around the country, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the production of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamines.

It definitely doesn’t help that Chinese celebrities are earning fame due to drug crimes, making drug use more ‘cool’. In response, police are cracking down with raids at bars (full of both foreigners and locals) and demanding on-the-spot urine tests to check for drugs. And as you may or may not know, drug possession, manufacturing or distribution all carry the death sentence in China.

For the full story, click here: http://www.echinacities.com/expat-corner/From-Foreigners-to-Celebs-Chinas-Latest-Crackdown-on-Drugs

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Indonesian Drug Laws to Include Rehabilitation for Drug Users

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Indonesia is well known for its severe penalties on drug use and trafficking, leading to overcrowded jails and repeat offenders. Kerobokan jail has long been known for its illicit parties, easy access to drugs, and violent gangs inside the facility. Last week, an Australian woman was sentenced to 10 months in this prison after being found with a half-smoked joint of hashish. Many experts believe that sending people like this to jail will more than likely turn them into harder criminals instead of reforming them for society.

This week, new regulations are being put into place where drug users will see the option of drug rehabilitation instead of jail time. Drug traffickers, however, will still see prison time. Will this help reform the jail system? Who will end up benefiting? Read the full story here: http://www.news.com.au/world/indonesia-moves-to-rehabilitate-drug-users/story-fndir2ev-1227021154359

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Work-Related Suicide & Addiction Rates are Rising in Japan

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Over 10,000 suicides have been attributed to the long working hours and suppressed working culture of the Japanese. Many others are turning to drugs and alcohol in order to escape the realities of the workplace, leading to a large spike in addiction rates throughout the country.

Read the full story here.

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Singapore & Asia Pacific Leading Globe in Smartphone Addiction

singapore

Medical specialists in Singapore are pushing to have smartphone addiction classified as a mental disorder, in light of the high numbers of Singaporeans experiencing negative effects from too much smartphone use.

87% of Singapore’s 5.4 million population own smartphones. In the United States, where professionals are also concerned about the dangers of smartphone addiction, only 65% of the population own smartphones – not reaching even the top 5 of the Asia Pacific countries. As well, Singaporeans spend an average of 38 minutes per session on Facebook – almost twice the amount of time that Americans spend per session.

But what does this mean? It means that people in China, Singapore, and Korea are experiencing physical and psychological ailments due to overuse of their phones. It means that one boy from Korea reverted to leaving home and living on the streets – in search of a WiFi connection when his father turned off their own internet connection. To date, China has approximately 300 centres to treat smartphone and internet addiction across the country. It could become a global epidemic if this issue does not receive adequate attention.

For more information on this relatively new addiction issue, view the full story here: http://www.therakyatpost.com/lifestyle/2014/06/14/smartphone-addiction-treated-psychiatric-problem-singapore/

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