Vice News - Methamphetamine seizures in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Oceania have exploded in recent years, nearly quadrupling from some 11 tons in 2008 to 42 tons in 2013, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Nations' Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Illicit drugs made from plants (e.g., cocaine, heroin) are being replaced in some national drug markets by those that are synthesized (e.g., methamphetamine, fentanyl). The U.S. has had a parallel experience in the past decade with the rise of illicit consumption of synthetic opioids and cannabinoids. If illicit drug markets continue to separate from an agricultural base, it would upend traditional understandings of drug markets and drug policy.
For decades, ketamine was only manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Technically, it was too complicated to be made by amateur chemists. But in the past five years, that has changed. Chinese drug gangs have cracked the code, figuring out how to manufacture large batches of cheap ketamine. Drug traffickers don't bother to steal ketamine from legal sources anymore. Instead, they're making their own. It's largely a Chinese breakthrough.
In its report on the methamphetamine market, the Australian Crime Commission identified ice as the illicit drug posing the highest risk to Australia. Perhaps it’s time to establish a safe place for ice users along the lines of the heroin injecting centre: a place where users can be monitored, where adverse physical and mental reactions to the drug can be professionally dealt with.
Nobody knows which came first: the economic crisis tearing Greece apart or shisha, the drug now known as the "cocaine of the poor". What everyone does accept is that shisha is a killer. And at €2 or less a hit, it is one that has come to stalk Greece, the country long on the frontline of Europe's financial meltdown. The drug crisis, brought to light in a new film by Vice.com, has put Athens's health authorities, already overwhelmed by draconian cuts, under further strain. (See also: 'Sisa', the drug of the poor)
Five Labor and three Conservative governments adopted harm minimisation as Australia’s official national drug policy on 2 April 1985 and every Commonwealth, state and territory government since then has implemented harm minimisation programmes.
In the 1990s, Southeast Asia experienced a boom in the production and consumption of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), in particular methamphetamines (meth). At the same time, the region has seen a declining opium market, although the downward trend may well be versing now. How exactly these two phenomena interrelate is still an unresolved question. The ATS market seems to have its own distinct dynamics; for users, the availability and accessibility of opium and heroin have an impact on ATS use and vice versa, and some former heroin producers have moved to producing ATS.
Four scientists from Columbia University published an analysis of previous studies on methamphetamine use that called into question some of the purported damaging effects of the drug on brain functioning. The review in Neuropsychopharmacology found that short-term effects of the drug actually improve attention, as well as visual and spatial perception, among other things. Moreover, chronic users—the ones who would be expected to suffer most—remain largely unimpaired.
Drug control agencies have called the significant decline in opium production in Southeast Asia over the past decade a 'success story'. The latest report of the Transnational Institute (TNI). based on in-depth research in the region, casts serious doubts on this claim noting that Southeast Asia suffers from a variety of 'withdrawal symptoms' that leave little reason for optimism.
Marie Longo, Wendy Wickes, Matthew Smout, Sonia Harrison, Sharon Cahill, Jason M. White
18 June 2009
This study tested the impact of a long-acting form of amphetamine as medication to help control dependent use of the closely allied stimulant, methamphetamine. Prescribed usually for the treatment of pathological sleepiness or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, effects of the amphetamine tablets prescribed in the study take several hours longer to emerge than normal amphetamine and last three to six hours longer, giving it a 'smoothing' profile similar to methadone for heroin users; non-rapid onset make it less intensely pleasurable, and longer duration suits it to once-daily administration.
This report captures the main outcomes from an informal expert seminar on harm reduction in relation to the rising problems with the use of Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) in Southeast and East Asia, organized by the Transnational Institute, with the support of the Western Australian Substance Users Association (WASUA). The aim of the meeting was to have an open-minded exchange of opinions and experiences about the situation in Myanmar, Thailand, and Yunnan Province (China).