Professor Sein Sein Myint
Few drugs are more valuable to man than the narcotics, but they are also the cause of much suffering and crime. The term “narcotics” is another word for opioid drugs or opiates which have been used to relative pain throughout history.
Properly used, narcotics help to reduce pain or induce sleep. However, continued use can result in physical dependence and addiction. The effects that narcotics have on the body and the brain differ from sedation and sleepiness to nausea and vomiting. The bio-chemical effects of narcotic drugs are what make them addictive. Chief of the narcotic drugs which have harmed mankind is the opium.
It is the dried juice from the seed pod of opium poppy (papaver somniferum). The opium poppies are sown in late spring for all harvesting. At maturity the poppy reaches a height of about one metre and bears several blossoms. The poppy flowers are beautiful. When the fetals fall off, they leave an egg-shaped pod, which is lanced about two weeks later. Tha sap oozes out of the pod overnight, hardens and scraped off the next day with a flat-bladed knife. The opium thus obtained is dried, purified and kneaded into balls.
Opium, “the tears of the poppy”, has been in local use for treating moderate and severe pain for hundreds of years. Opium is reduced to morphine by a chemical process. Morphine is converted to heroin by another chemical process which is very delicate and dangerous. A miscalculation of temprature or cooking time can result in explosion. Heroin thus obtained, is several times more potent than the morphine from which it is produced. A form of highly refined heroin, called No. 4 or Double Uoglobe, is produced at the drug laboratories and refineries. This strain is so concentrated that it takes up about one-tenth of the space of raw opium, thus reducing logistical problems of shipment and transportation. Stimulant tablets are also a kind of narcotic drugs. The most commonly used street drugs that fall into this category are cocaine and amphitamines.
Drug addiction is a chronic often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, leading to harmful consequences to the drug addict and those around him. Drug addiction is a brain disease because the use of drugs lead to changes in the structure and function of the brain. Narcotic drugs also effect the nervous system and the circulation of the blood in the body. Like many mental health disorders, several factors may contribute to the development of drug addiction. Thus it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug addiction. The clinical triad of the following signs are the hallmark of heroin overdose—pinpoint pupil, depressed respiratory rate, and coma. Heroin depresses the respiratory centre and it was found that most of the heroin overdose addicts die of respiratory failure. The barbiturate groups are sedative anti-anxiety drugs.
Over use of the barbiturates causes hypotension, respiratory depression, skin lesions and impaired consciousness. The symptoms of psychotropic dependence, in its minor forms are apprehension, insominia and dizziness. In more severe cases, there will be nausea and vomiting, muscular weakness or tremors, postural hypotension, hyperthermia, muscle twitches, convulsions and confusional state or psychosis. Injection drug use can lead to cardiovascular problems such as collapsed veins, bacterial infections and sometimes cardiac arrest. So if someone is suspected of having an overdose on narcotics, immediate medical attention should be giving to prevent possible long term, life threatening effects. Drug addicts would go to any lengths to obtain drugs, thus leading to tragic crimes.
The tragic impact of the drug trade has become a serious problem throughout the world. In some countries the situation is simply catastrophic. Some countries have imposed the death sentence on those who are involved in illicit drug trade. Hence, narcotic drug abuse has become an international concern and many countries are making all-out efforts to fight against the menace of narcotic drugs.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, also has been waging relentless campaigns to fight against narcotic drug abuse in the country. The suppression of opium poppy cultivation is one of the measures taken by the state to wipe out narcotic drugs. Although most of the opium poppy grown are in regions which are not easily accessible, the authorities have been making continuous efforts to search out and destroy the poppy plantations while at the same time subtituting income-generating activities in place of poppy cultivation. The crop-substituing scheme is being carried out with considerable success. In addition, the authorities have been destroying and smashing refineries run by insurgent traffickers, exposing and prosecuting peddlers and drug traffickers. Another measure taken by the state is annual destruction of narcotic drugs. Large amounts of all kinds of narcotic drugs seized by the authorities are destroyed annually to make the world and the people aware of the fight against narcotic drugs by the Myanmar government. Furthermore, rehabilitation centres have been set up to help the drug addicts who wish to give up drug use.
Since the intensive campaigns waged by the state to wipe out the drug menace are being done in the interest of the whole nation, more so, in the interest of the entire mankind, such activities merit all-out support. So in full awareness of the physically debilitating, socially degrading and economically disastrous efforts of narcotic drugs, all individuals and organizations should extend their full and active co-operation to the authorities in the efforts to stamp out the drug menace which threatens the entire mankind.