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Asia’s Growing Drug Crisis

Drug addicts face a difficult world. In America, they are shamed, stigmatized, labeled, and judged  for suffering from a chronic mental health disorder. Addiction is treated differently than their mental health counterparts such as depression or physical health counterparts like diabetes. Whereas other disorders which are relapsing and remitting see sympathy and compassion upon a relapse, drug addicts see punishment, judgment and exclusion. Additionally, addicts are assigned the roles of being liars, thieves, criminals, heathens, and generally immoral people. They face jail time, criminal records, difficulty getting health insurance, and more.

One thing addicts living in America do not face is execution. Sadly, many addicts die on the streets each day due to a lack of access to treatment or the desire to get sober. However, in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar, addicts are facing execution and lifelong jail sentences. In the Philippines, for example, 2400 people have died in the last two months. Indonesia has begun executing convicted drug felons. Other countries experiencing an epidemic of drugs include Japan, South Korea and Laos.

Asian countries are dealing with a surge in drug addiction similar to what America is experiencing. Whereas America is seeing a rise of epidemic proportion in opioid addiction, Asian countries are seeing a rise in addiction to methamphetamines. Methamphetamines, commonly known as meth or crystal meth, are highly addictive and incredibly destructive. In just three years, the amount of meth being found and seized by government officials has nearly quadrupled. 2009 saw 11 tons of methamphetamines; 2013 saw 42.

Coincidentally, most of North America’s supply of synthetic drugs like crystal meth come from China or neighboring Asian countries. Producing meth is cheap. Meth is also sold for low cost, but the quantity adds up in cost and revenue for manufacturers. As a business, the UNODC predicted Meth was worth $15 billion dollars in Southeast Asia.

The term “everything under the kitchen sink” applies to meth- it can be made from chemicals ranging between drain cleaner to gasoline. Consequently, the high produced by abusing meth is wild, erratic, and volatile, which leads to the rapid development of addiction. Treating meth addiction in Asia is difficult due to a severe lack in affordable treatment centers. Ironically, the area is littered with exclusive luxury rehabs for Westerners.

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