Tuesday, April 6, 2010

‘Drug dependence a medical condition that can be treated’

The notion that there is no hope for a drug dependent person creates a social stigma, thus causing the addict to continue down the path of self-destruction.The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye clarified that drug dependence is a medical condition and most importantly it is a condition that can be treated. Lee revealed that the stigma of the illness itself, the fear of rejection by the community and losing their freedom which has resulted in patients being hesitant of seeking early treatment.

“For every individual registered for drug treatment, there are two to three others who remain unregistered, placing the estimated number of drug users in the country between 350,000 to 900,000 individuals,” he said.

All is not lost as ‘Jiwa Baru’ public education programme had successfully reached out to about 3,500 individuals seeking more information on drug dependence, he noted.

According to Lee, these individuals wanted more information particularly on opiate dependence or a referral to a community-based doctor, who has been trained to manage and treat people with drug dependence.

“Development programmes and education is important to educate them that drug dependence can be treated effectively through drug substitution therapy at community-based treatment centres/private clinics,” he said.

The programme, he added, would ensure that as a nation, everyone will move forward together instead of leaving certain level of community lagging behind.

Lee added: “This measure would also slowly cease the stigma that is closely associated with drug addicts and more and more members of the community will embrace the fact that drug addiction is a medical condition that can be treated.”

The goal of treating drug dependence is to enable patients to manage the symptoms of their disease and gain control of their dependence, with medication providing an important component for managing both the short-term and long-term effects of drug dependence.

He also warned that drugs had a deep impact on a workplace.

This was because drug abuse represents difficult problems for employers as they are under competitive pressure to increase output. At the same time, these employers need to respond to critical human resources issues to continue in business, he said.

Drug abuse puts the brakes on human and social development, and also has powerful effects on the brain, influencing a wide range of human activities.

“Illicit drugs use creates significant problems in the workplace, as work tasks that require higher level judgment, constant attention, immediate memory and fine motor skills are easily disrupted by drugs,” cautioned Lee.

“Drug abusers have more absenteeism, accidents on the job, medical claims and lost productivity than non-users,” Lee reckoned.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Designer drugs that can kill catching on among the young

Designer drugs like methamphetamine and Ecstasy are becoming the drug of choice for abusers, who are getting younger, with some hardly in their teens.

These “party” drugs are becoming more popular than opiate-based drugs as they are more easily available ­­‑ being concocted locally - and hard to trace through standard police urine tests. There is also the misconception that such drugs are not addictive.

● Many of these drugs, in pill form, are heavily contaminated, some even with rat poison.

● According to private drug rehabilitation centres, almost 80% of their new inmates are users of such drugs.

● Many of those in rehabilitation are in their teens or 20s and suffer from brain damage and other side effects.

● The National Anti-Drug Agency will begin a pilot programme by the year’s end to specifically treat synthetic drug abusers.

Types of party drugs

Erimin 5



Methamphetamine (Syabu, Ice, Yaba, WY, Pil Kuda) is a type of amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS), which also covers amphetamine (Bennies, Benz), Ecstasy, cocaine (Coke, Snow, Blow, Toot) and crack (Base, Sugar Block, Roxanne). ATS is a synthetic drug, produced through chemical reactions, it acts on the central nervous system.

Users feel “awkwardly confident” and bold, and this also makes them aggressive. They usually experience sleeping difficulty, staying awake for up to eight days.

The detrimental effects of methamphetamine:

● It affects various sides of the brain instead of being receptor-specific like conventional drugs. It makes the user more violent, aggressive and will in the long run cause brain damage, 60% of which is irreversible.

● It is highly acidic and can destroy the walls of blood vessels or cause internal vessel rupture.

● It affects the cardiovascular system, leading to heart attack or stroke.

● It leads to mental disorder. More than 40% of those taking methamphetamines suffer from mental disorder after two years.

Ketamine is an anaesthetic for horses, legally manufactured in India in liquid form, but the powder form is abused as a party drug. Low doses give users a drunk-like effect while a high dose induces an “out of the world”, dream-like or floating sensation. The drug numbs the users and their thinking, and hence, is widely used as a rape drug.

Only a certain percentage of users develop dependency, but even those not addicted to it will experience the following effects:

● Severe epigastric pain.

● Urinary incontinence (passing urine every five minutes), urinary track infection, kidney failure.

● Pronounced damage to the cerebella (back of brain) and brain stem (the part of brain that controls our stomach and urinary bladder movement).

Erimin 5 (Five-chai, Happy 5) or Nimetazepam, which belongs to the benzodiazepine group of drugs, is an anti-anxiety, sleeping tablet that has the properties of amphetamine. It is highly abusive, hence the benzodiazepine was added to the Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in May, 2001.

Monday, October 26, 2009

83% of new drug addicts traced in the country were Malays.

Kosmo! reported that 83% of new drug addicts traced in the country were Malays.

National Anti-Drug Agency assistant medical director Dr Sangeeh Kaur said a survey done between January and July showed that many of these addicts had just sat for the PMR and SPM.

“A total of 2,680 new addicts were traced throughout the country, with 10% being Chinese and 7% Indians,” she said.

She said 1,024 of them had PMR qualifications, while 913 had SPM qualifications.

As for the rest, 46 had sat for the STPM while 29 were diploma holders and four had degrees.

The survey also showed that those with higher academic qualifications were less likely to get involved in drug abuse, Dr Sangeeh Kaur said.

“Many of them started taking drugs because of the bad influence from friends and out of curiosity. The most popular drugs are heroin, morphine, syabu and marijuana,” she added.

The Star Online 27/10/09

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2009/06/18 - Malaysia wants US to explain trafficking listing

Malaysia will seek an explanation from the United States embassy on its government's report which placed Malaysia on its list of top trafficking offenders.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said yesterday making judgments beyond Kuala Lumpur's control would be unfair."I need to know what it was that has become an issue. If it is within our control, we will do whatever we can to overcome it, but, of course, there are limitations."Our borders and shorelines are very porous and they should be realistic about this and take all this into consideration." He said issues regarding human trafficking could not be solved overnight.
"We will get an accurate and true account from the embassy. Like what we did in 2007, this is nothing new."Malaysia was blacklisted in 2001 but its ranking improved to Tier 2 in subsequent years until 2007, when it was relegated to Tier 3. Last year, after the enactment of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007, Malaysia was again elevated to Tier 2.Hishammuddin said he was not surprised with the report but Kuala Lumpur would not submit any protest note.Malaysia is listed with 16 other countries in Tier 3 this year, including six newly-added African nations.Tier 3 countries face possible sanctions such as the withholding of non-humanitarian, non-trade related US aid."What is there as the impact? If an economic sanction is to be imposed, it will not affect our position in this present economic slowdown."Human trafficking is an international issue and they have no teeth, except to put Malaysia at that level. However, this does not mean that Malaysia has no responsibility towards the world community."Hishammuddin stressed that it was incumbent upon Malaysia to address the problem.To prove a point, he said he had spoken to the British high commissioner to Malaysia on the matter recently."My colleague from Australia will be here to sign a memorandum of understanding on trafficking. We will also work with the US on this."Hishammuddin said a tripartite agreement on human trafficking was timely "but without any threat or sanctions, and without pressure on us".He said Malaysia wanted to be part of the international community and would do whatever it could within its capacity to address the issues."We have come up with the (Anti-Trafficking in Persons) Act. The situation has been remedied but now, I have to find out the truth about this."Hishammuddin also said the cabinet committee on foreign workers and the committee on legal workers had been combined into one and would be chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin."They will discuss issues on refugees, illegal workers, street children and others. "We are fully aware of our responsibility to address these issues. I will do it without any pressure from anybody because that is our responsibility," he said, adding that Muhyiddin would chair the first meeting soon.
addthis_pub = 'nstonline';

Malaysian drug mule held at Sydney airport

A Malaysian woman, 26, has been held on suspicion of smuggling drugs into Australia last week.
She apparently swallowed small packets of drugs in a bid to escape detection. The woman was detained at the Sydney International Airport after arriving on a flight from Phuket, Thailand.A federal police spokesman said the woman was believed to have behaved in a suspicious manner at the airport and this caught the attention of the Customs and Border Protection officers."The woman was stopped and her luggage searched thoroughly. Despite not finding anything, the authorities were suspicious and believed that the woman had swallowed the drugs," the spokesman said.

"She was taken to a nearby hospital where X-rays showed more than two dozen little white packets in her stomach. After being questioned, the woman admitted she had been paid US$5,000 (RM17,600) to smuggle the drugs."It is understood 25 packets of heroin, weighing about 500g, were retrieved from the woman. The drugs are believed to be worth several thousand Australian dollars.Drug syndicates in Malaysia had also used a Filipino to smuggle drugs abroad. The woman, in her 30s, was arrested recently by airport authorities in Hong Kong on arrival from Kuala Lumpur. She was found to have 42 packets of heroin, weighing 206g, in her stomach.Bukit Aman is probing the possibility that the two cases may be connected to the arrest of four Africans, one of whom was a woman, in Jalan Ampang on Tuesday.Police found 16.5kg of heroin, valued at RM1.3 million, on them. Police later picked up two Pakistanis.The six are believed to have used Malaysia as a transit for distributing the drugs. The heroin is believed to have been smuggled from Afghanistan via Pakistan with Australia as its final destination.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Drug abuse growing in developing countries, UN warns

The use of synthetic drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine (meth) and ecstasy is growing in developing countries, notably in Asia and the Middle East, and in the Gulf states in particular, a top UN body warned Tuesday.

While demand for such drugs has stabilised or even declined in North America, Europe and Oceania, "the problem has shifted to new markets over the past few years," the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime said in a new report.

"Asia, with its huge population and increasing affluence, is driving demand," the report said.

In its 2008 Global Assessment of amphetamine, methamphetamine (meth) and ecstasy, the UNODC found that, on an annual basis, the use of these drugs exceeded that of cocaine and heroin combined.

The global market, both wholesale and retail, for amphetamine-type stimulants or ATS was estimated at 65 billion dollars, the report said.

In 2006, almost half of Asian countries reported an increase in methamphetamine use and Saudi Arabia seized more than 12 tonnes of amphetamine, mostly in the form known as Captagon, accounting for a staggering 25 percent of all ATS seized in the world.

In South Africa, the number of seized methamphetamine laboratories had consistently gone up for the past five years while domestic consumption had increased.

Launching the report in Bangkok, UNODC's Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, warned that ATS "is being used as a cheap and available tonic for our fast and competitive times -- for entertainment in discos (mostly in the West), and for greater stamina in assembly lines and behind a steering wheel (in the East)."

Synthetic drugs were "falsely perceived as being harmless," Costa said. "This leads to benign neglect in attitudes, policy and enforcement that only slows down remedial action. This is dangerous."

ATS production had stabilised worldwide at about 500 tonnes per years, but while fewer labs were being seized in the US and Europe, production was rising in neighbouring countries, such as Canada, Mexico and Turkey.

Recently, the single largest seizure of ecstasy ever recorded -- 4.4 tonnes -- was made in Australia.

UNODC noted that unlike plant-based drugs such as cocaine and heroin, production of synthetic drugs was hard to trace because the ingredients were readily available for legitimate industrial purposes.

Furthermore, suppliers quickly adapt to the latest trends, and cater to local markets.
"When one lab is shut, another opens. When one type of precursor chemical is unavailable, producers switch to an alternative," Costa said.

"This presents a challenge to law enforcement since production is so close to retail outlets. Therefore, greater emphasis should be put on prevention."

Ten years ago, synthetic drugs "were a cottage industry. Now they're big business controlled by organised crime syndicates involved in all phases of the trade, from smuggling precursor chemicals, to manufacturing the drugs and trafficking," Costa said.

The countries facing the brunt of the ATS onslaught were also the least-prepared to cope, he continued.

"Some countries are in denial about the problem, and don't even report their situation to the United Nations. Others are ill-equipped to fight the pandemic, in terms of information gathering, regulatory frameworks, law enforcement, forensics, or health care," Costa said.

"The world needs to get smart about ATS before the problem is out of control," he said.

The UNODC was therefore launching a new programme, SMART, which will help governments "improve their capacity to gather, analyse and share information on ATS products, their use, and on trafficking routes."

"This should give us a better sense of how big the problem of synthetic drugs really is, and what more can be done to deal with it in terms of prevention, treatment and law enforcement," Costa said.