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Thailand’s Drug Problem: Methamphetamine and Yaba

August 30, 2012 | Written by : Alastair Mordey

The first month of 2012 is not even over and police in Thailand have recently discovered over 3.8 million yaba tablets as well as 71 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, in one bust, on the outskirts of Bangkok. Although the government has increased its efforts to reduce the amount of drugs, specifically yaba and meth, coming in from surrounding countries like Myanmar and Laos; decreasing supply and demand is proving to be incredibly difficult.

The first month of 2012 is not even over and police in Thailand have recently discovered over 3.8 million yaba tablets as well as 71 kilos of crystal methamphetamine, in one bust, on the outskirts of Bangkok. Although the government has increased its efforts to reduce the amount of drugs, specifically yaba and meth, coming in from surrounding countries like Myanmar and Laos; decreasing supply and demand is proving to be incredibly difficult.

Several numbers have been given to the public regarding the amount of drug addicts in Thailand; however, an exact number is unknown. The most recent number was put at 1.1 million; although it is likely to be much higher than this. The dramatic rise of methamphetamine and yaba use in Thailand can be partly blamed on the lack of education regarding these harmful drugs. Some Thais consider these drugs to be okay, even acceptable, because they are believed to be un-addictive. This idea has unfortunately lead a large number of people to use these drug as if they were only an energy drink. This is not to say that an energy drink is not harmful in any way because they too are addictive, but they are not as harmful or dangerous as yaba or methamphetamine.

Yaba and Methamphetamine- Is It the Same?

Some people believe that yaba and methamphetamine is the same drug; in fact, there is a slight difference. Yaba means ‘crazy medicine' in Thai and comes in the form of a small round tablet. It is often red, but can be green, yellow, orange, or blue. Some have small logos on them while others may be grape, orange, or vanilla flavored. Yaba is a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine. It is most commonly consumed orally or smoked, but it can also be crushed and snorted or injected.

Methamphetamine is chemically made. The final result is a crystal or glass like substance which varies from white or blue. This must be crushed into a powder. From here, it is commonly smoked, snorted, or injected. In Thailand, Yaba is the preferred drug of choice, but methamphetamine use is on the rise.

Beginning in Myanmar

Although there is a substantial amount of yaba and methamphetamine produced in Thailand's northern neighbour Laos; most of these drugs are produced in the neighbor to the west, that being Myanmar. From Myanmar, sometimes referred to as Burma, the packets of white powder and red tablets are off to the border towns, or the Golden Triangle, this location is known as the main transit point of distribution. Typically, the drugs are in large quantities when arriving at these hotspots and must be broken down into smaller amounts. Once this has been done, the yaba and methamphetamine makes its way down south to Bangkok and beyond. It is not uncommon for officials in nearby countries or even as far away as Australia and the USA to confiscate drugs that had their beginning in Myanmar.

From Taxi Drivers to Office Workers

Go back 10 years ago and the only people in Thailand who were taking yaba or meth were drivers who worked 15, even 20 hours a day and the occasional bar worker. Nowadays, most Thais know someone who at the minimum uses one of the two drugs every now and then. Taxi drivers, farmers, restaurant waiters, office workers, and anyone in between may be using this dangerous drug.

Treatment for Addicts

The most important thing that must happen in Thailand is for the public, especially children and adolescents, to become properly educated about drugs and the disastrous effects that can occur as a result from abuse and/or addiction. Furthermore, it is important that any addict and their family understands that there is no shame in getting treatment for their addiction; it is in fact the best thing that anyone can do.

Yaba and methamphetamine users in Thailand, and throughout the world for that matter, can get help. It may be difficult and will not happen overnight, but with proper treatment including therapy, education, and support, sobriety can be achieved.

The Cabin Chiang Mai is a private luxury rehab located in Chiang Mai Thailand. Due to our location, we are familiar with the devastating effects that yaba and methamphetamine has had throughout this beautiful country. We pride ourselves on being highly skilled with various techniques on how to treat yaba or methamphetamine addictions. Furthermore, we are dedicated to helping those individuals who are dependent upon these drugs.

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