August 18, 2016

Let’s Keep Waging the War on Drugs

Aye Phyu

My mother always scolds me wheneven I refer drug addicts as stupid people who lack moral principle or will power, extremely selfish without any consideration for their loved ones and others. She urges me to sympathesize with them, not to mistakenly assume as I do, explaining that drug addiction is a complex disease that depends on several factors such as genes and biological formation, upbringing, environment, etc.
Drug abuse occurs with the recurrent use of illegal drugs or misuse of prescription or over the counter drugs with negative consequences. Experts say drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse. The initial pick up may be voluntary but it is believed that the brain-changes that occur over time get to challenge the addicted person’s self control, thereby hampering his ability to resist intense impulses to take drugs.
Narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances covers quite a wide range but to layman like us only cocaine, heroin, black opium, marijuana seem to be familiar terms. The recent names such as ‘yaba’ ‘ice’ and ‘meth’ sound new in the trade. Even last week, my fifth grade brother asked me about ‘yaba’ and I had no answer except that it is a kind of narcotic drug. From the Internet, I managed to get hold of some basic facts about those deadly drugs.
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is one of the most popular illicit substances found in nearly every corner of the world. ‘Ice’ is another name for it, believed to be the “poster drug” for global narco economy. ‘Yaba,’ thought by many as crazy drug in Thailand, is a round small pill, coming in  “different versions that carry logos such as ‘R’ or ‘WY.’ It consists of meth and caffeine combined. It is mentioned that drug makers entice young people with candy flavors and fb (face book) sale. ‘Yaba’ can be taken orally or melted and inhaled. Because it gives the user alertness, seemingly endless energy and the sense of euphoria, ‘Yaba’ tends to lure people into giving it a try, appealing to people in all socio economic positions.
Most narcotic drugs bring about similar effects. Scientists said the active ingredient ‘Meth’ is highly addictive and with regular use, feelings dissipate and replaced by a host of negative effects including violent behavior, paranoia and acute psychosis.
Drug abuse and addiction really pose as a national concern for all countries. It just does not harm the addict but has a far reaching effect that encompasses family, friends, employers, community and society as a whole. Consumed by addiction, drug addicts, selfish, self centred and oblivious to others, and with only their needs in focus, will do anything to feed it, including criminal behavior, after having lost all the rational and civilized thoughts what so ever.
From some media we know that enormous costs have to be borne annually by nations, connected to health and crime related issues stemming from drug abuse and addiction. And yet those staggering cost figures according to experts in the field, do not fully describe the breadth or intensity of public health and safety implications thereof.
Once I came across a line somewhere somebody has said. It goes like that: “I don’t want to defy economic logic and say ‘supply’ creates ‘demand’ but to a certain extent it feels that way.”
Perhaps, that seems to reflect the reality happening in our country and in the world, too. Availability and easy access to illegal drugs has been worsening the situation, increasing the number of drug users many fold, destroying our most important and valuable human resources.
It stands to reason that all citizens from all walks of life must hands in the combat against drug trafficking through which various illegal drugs get into the hands of users.
Traffickers use all kinds of transport routes that are constantly changing. Airplanes, speed boats, trucks, tunnels and what not, taken as a whole, the system used to move illegal drugs around the world, drug officials said, comprise an extremely large logistics network. With old routes cracked down, new routes evolve in no time.
It is generally believed that the war on drugs has been keeping pace with the expansion of the global economy. Technological advances led to faster and better transport and travel systems that in turn brought about fluid efficiency and speed of the global economy. However, the grey side has it that the same facilities and similar efficiencies are also offered to the business of illegal drug network with the result of a simultaneous explosion of drug trafficking throughout the world.
Governments around the world had a discussion on what to do about the global drug problem last April 2016, at UN in New York after which a pledge was made to take a more comprehensive approach to the issues than in years past. They also decided to keep waging the war on drugs.
The ‘outcome document’ adopted during the UN General Assembly’s Special Session (UNGASS) calls for countries to “prevent and counter” drug related crime by disrupting the “illicit cultivation, production, manufacturing and trafficking” of cocain, heroin, methamphetamine and other substances banned by International Law.
The document also reaffirmed the UNs “unwavering commitment” to supply reduction and related measures.
Yet according to UN’s own data, the supply oriented approach to fighting drug trafficking has been a failure of epic proportions.
2015 world Drug Report by UN office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) states that despite billions of dollars spent trying to eradicate illicit crops, seize drug loads, and arrest traffickers, more people than ever before are getting high.
As we are building a new democratic Myanmar, we’d like to experience greater success in our war on drugs. Despite our Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances law together with strict and severe punishment and confiscation sentences for traffickers, we have been hearing in the media almost every other day about the multiple cases of seizures of different illegal drugs throughout our country.
We need to top up our effort from every angle. Government, Civil Society Organizations, NGO and INGOs, business and private sectors, and every one must put in for a concerted effort in the combat. Responsible forces must be reinforced, for tracking down local as well as cross border traffickers and any other connections elsewhere, in cooperation and collaboration with regional or international counterparts. Public participation can play a significant role in combating drug related crimes in the country, people can keep themselves quite alert in their daily life and report to the authorities concerned, any irregularity or suspicious activity in connection with illicit drugs trafficking.
As good citizens, let’s keep waging the war on drugs!


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