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World’s Worst Places for Addicts: Thailand

Thailand’s street drug of choice – meth, often supplied from gangs from neighboring Myanmar – is a as most already know, a particularly nasty substance – thanks to such anti-drug campaigns as Faces of Meth. Unlike Southeast Asia’s traditional drug of choice, opium, meth is cheap and can turn users into desperate and violent addicts.

The number of methamphetamine users in Thailand will reach 1.1 million this year, the head of the country’s anti-drug police report – that’s one in every 60 people. The number of users has increased by 100,000 annually over the last five and half years, said Lieutenant-General Atitep Panjamanond.

Thai children as young as 13 are doing meth and children as young as five- and six-years-old are being used as drug mules. Last month the public health minister said 6,700 children aged 7 to 17 were rehabilitated in the first half of this year.

Thailand’s War on Drugs – Past and Present

Thailand’s last “war on drugs” was in 2003 and it was, in a word, messy. Cops were given pretty much free-reign to conduct their own version of justice – mass killings that often involved innocents, even children. More than 2,500 people died in three months after Thaksin Shinawatra ordered police to make lists of suspected dealers and act “decisively and without mercy.” The police, of course, blamed gang crime for most of the deaths, saying that only 68 of those killed were shot by officers “in self-defense.” Human rights groups say there is compelling evidence of extra-judicial killings done by the police. In fact, a committee later reported that more than half the dead, including a nine-year-old boy, weren’t even involved in the drugs trade.

Now, Thaksin’s sister and prime minister-in-waiting, Yingluck Shinawatra, , has already pledged “a new war on drugs” – vowing to eliminate drugs within 12 months, which is alarming news to human rights groups who fear a repeat of the slaughter that took place in 2003 under her brother’s rule.

Drug Treatment in Thailand

There isn’t must choice when it comes to treatment. Addicts are either rounded up and killed or resort to seeking help and treatment from monks at Buddhist monasteries. There is a huge gap between the classes: either you’re really, really wealthy or, like the majority of people in Thailand, grossly impoverished. Treatment at the monasteries is free.

Thailand Monasteries Offer Arcane Treatment

Opiate addicts travel from all over the world to the Buddhist monastery Wat Tham Krabok in Thailand to undergo a brutal and ancient treatment. It’s a detox process that is used by monks at the monastery and involves them administering a ‘secret elixir’ to addicts seeking a cure. The detox lasts for 5 days and is extremely intense. Addicts are given a vile drink daily which induces uncontrollable heaving and violent, projectile vomiting. As if this wasn’t intense enough, these vomiting sessions are made a public event where even schoolchildren are bused in to watch, as a kind of ‘Just Say No’ campaign to keep them from using drugs.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/southeast-asia/thailand-drug-laws

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jul/10/thailand-war-on-drugs-rights-groups

http://worldblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/02/10/10365220-want-to-be-drug-free-thai-monks-prescribe-projectile-vomiting?lite

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