Addiction treatment services for the general population in Malaysia are still a work in progress and leave a lot to be desired. Back in the 1990s, the Malaysian government opened detention centers across the country for drug addicts. The facilities at these centers were inadequate to say the least.
Since then a number of new private treatment clinics have opened their door offering more choice to those with the financial means to pay for treatment. They aim to help addicts overcome their dependency permanently and reintegrate them back into the mainstream. The residents are given valuable life skills and learn new skills, so that they can live a productive life and become valuable members of the society.
Some well known 12 steps programs also have a presence in Malaysia with Narcotics Anonymous holding frequent meetings and Alcoholics Anonymous having meetings in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. These organizations do a lot of good work at combating drug abuse and alcoholism by helping individuals overcome addictive behaviors and regain their self-esteem.
What The Stats Say About The Drug Problem in Malaysia
Malaysia has a serious problem with drugs. There seems to be no respite in sight despite the the creation of an anti drug task force and the issuance of the death penalty to those convicted of drug trafficking. It was thought that the drug problem was a thing of the past but recently, it has emerged once again as a serious concern.
About 50 percent of the illegal drug use in Malaysia relates to heroin and methamphetamine. There were over 22,811 drug addicts in the country, according to 2006 stats. Of course, that was a long time ago, and there is every reason to believe that the number of drug addicts have risen dramatically since then. Most drug users come from the Pulau Pinang and Kedah area. Indeed, indications are that over 1.1% of the Malaysian population are addicted to illicit drugs.
The Most Common Illicit Drugs
Heroin is thought to be the most common illicit drug in Malaysia. It is closely followed by methamphetamine, which is very popular here among addicts. There are many who prefer amphetamine type stimulants. Another popular drug in South East Asia is Kratom, which is made from leaves have opiate-type effects. Cannabis, Ecstasy (MDMA) and Ketamine are the other banned drugs that are widely abused in Malaysia.
Issues Created by Addiction in Malaysia
Addiction is dangerous and can cause great damage to the individual or to their families. One does not have to use banned drugs for too long before getting addicted to them. It takes only a few weeks of use before the person develops psychological and physical dependency on the drug. This can play havoc with their life.
Drugs are expensive and most people don’t have the money to financially support their drug use. So they resort to crime. That’s why incidents such as mugging, theft and street violence become routine in a country where drug use is common.
Drugs destroy an individual’s physical and psychological health. It becomes impossible for an individual to stop using the banned substance once they get hooked on to them. Addicts display violent flashes of temper and engage in highly inappropriate behaviour.
Many promising young lives have been destroyed by drug addiction. Once a young person becomes addicted to drugs, they can no longer focus on their studies. Many drop out of school or college.
Addicts often tend to overdose on the banned substance, often at great risk to their lives. Many end up in prison, some end up dead. The most common consequences of drug addiction are unemployment and homelessness.
“Even the death penalty is not enough of a deterrent to stop people trying to profit from smuggling drugs through Malaysia’s porous border.” – Mamat Amin
Extent of the Damage Caused by Substance Abuse
Drug addiction not only destroys the life of the individual, it is highly damaging for the entire society and nation. Malaysia has suffered greatly because of the widespread use of drugs in the country.
For one, the law enforcement has to devote a significant part of their resources in the fight against drugs. This can cost the government billions of dollars, which could have been used for more productive purposes.
It also ties down the nation’s hospitals and other medical facilities into dedicating a chunk of their resources into providing quality healthcare for drug addicts.
Another major worry is that there has been an increase in the number of HIV transmissions in the country because of intravenous drug use.
Drug addicts can potentially cause great damage to the economy. A lot of recent addicts find themselves having to leave their jobs because of their inability to focus on work. This affects the productivity at the workplace and makes businesses less competitive.
Families are wrecked because of drug addiction. Quite often, drug addicts run through all of their financial resources, sell all of their investments and property in order to sustain their drug habit. Their families are deeply affected by this and many households are ruined and even rendered homeless.
Drug use, more often than not, leads to poverty and ravages communities. It destroys the society and leads to an increase in criminality. Drug addiction fuels the rise of crime and criminal gangs. The money from drugs is often used to sponsor terrorism. Millions of innocent lives are lost or permanently damaged because of this.