Narcotics use spikes over the past year

Narcotics use spikes over the past year

Heroin use among jobless on the rise

Thais used more illegal drugs in the past 12 months, with marijuana topping the list as the most widely consumed substance among users, a survey has found.

The survey also found that heroin use among the unemployed is rising at an alarming rate.

The acting director of Health Risk Control I Section of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Rungarun Limlahaphan, said drug use by children and adolescents between the age of 12-19 remains a worrying problem -- with 3.72% of them admitting to illegal drug use in 2019.

The survey also found that as many as 4.6% of Thais used narcotic substances in the past 12 months -- a period that overlapped with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Marijuana was used the most, followed by methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine, opium, heroin and morphine.

The drug use figures were revealed at an online seminar by the Centre for Addiction Studies of Thai Health, held to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is tomorrow.

Ms Rungarun paid special attention to methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine, also known as "ice". The powerful stimulants -- if consumed in high doses -- stimulate the production of dopamine, which may cause paranoia among some users.

Intravenous injection of the drugs might also lead to HIV and hepatitis C infections, the acting director said.

The centre's director, Assoc Prof Rasmon Kalayasiri, said that while heroin use generally fell among the general population in the past year, the survey found its abuse is increasing among the self-employed and unemployed.

Meanwhile, government agencies seized about 450 million baht worth of drugs and drug-related assets over the past two months, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said yesterday.

Between May-June this year, drug suppression agencies busted 43 drug smuggling rings and arrested a total of 1,346 suspects.

They seized a total of 25,997,331 methamphetamine pills, 321 kilogrammes of crystal methamphetamine, 1 kilogramme of ketamine, 3.5kg of heroin and 420kg of marijuana.

The seized drugs and assets obtained with the proceeds of drug sales were worth about 450 million baht altogether, the minister said.

Suspects' bank accounts and cash -- with about 12 billion baht in circulation -- were also seized for examination.

Officials found that items other than cash were also being used in drug transactions -- for example, gold bars, fuel, zinc and steel rods.

This made it more difficult for authorities to obtain solid evidence against suspects and seize their assets.

This matter was raised for discussion at a meeting yesterday, Mr Somsak said, adding the money-laundering law might have to be amended to accommodate this aspect.

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