UN data casts light on Thailand’s growing methamphetamine use

From an early 2013 methamphetamine seizure

The United Nations’ annual World Drug Report, presented to the Thai press today at the Office of the Narcotics Control Board in Bangkok, revealed that Thailand is one of several hotspots in the global fight against amphetamine trafficking.

The report revealed that amphetamines have become the most prevalent recreational drug in Thailand, and that the Thai population has undergone what experts describe as a “large increase” in methamphetamine abuse during the past three years.

Thailand’s fate is indicative of a wider global trend, wherein unstable states are being used as hubs for the manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs. In the case of Thailand (and neighboring Laos, where amphetamine use has increased as well), the drugs have a clear, identifiable source – Myanmar.

The UN reports that unstable states, such as Myanmar and several West African nations, have become factories for the international trade in amphetamines. Since Thailand lies immediately adjacent to Myanmar, much of that illicit substance passes through the Kingdom on its way out to serve global markets.

“Increases in seizures and use of opiates and methamphetamine throughout Southeast Asia – and the diversification of smuggling routes – indicate the drug economy is growing,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, via a press release.

The UN estimates that the illicit drug trade in East Asia possesses an annual value close to USD90 billion.

Photo: Zanyasan Tanantpapat

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