Amphetamines: In the news

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 5:09 am

Amphetamine abuse among teenagers is not just a problem faced by the United States and western countries. In Thailand, every day more teenagers become addicted to amphetamines. The number of youths arrested on drug-related charges sharply escalated in 1996, reportedly the year that the popularity of amphetamines among young people surpassed that of heroin.

In Thailand, amphetamine is called ya maa, “the horse drug — since it lets you work like a horse,” report two Thai writers. It is also known as ya baa, the “crazy drug.” Thai truck drivers discovered amphetamines first, and then others working long hours embraced the drug. Amphetamines became so popular on Thai highways that some gas stations started offering it along with fuel. The Inter Press Service quotes unnamed Thai government sources as saying that as many as one million Thais may be addicted to amphetamines. Many of the addicts are college and high school teens who were attracted to the drug’s promise of increased energy and used it to study before tests.

As one of three countries known as the “Golden Triangle” (Thailand, Burma, and Laos), Thailand’s drugs of choice historically have been opium, cocaine, or heroin. Nevertheless, the use of amphetamines and other synthetic drugs is rising in Thailand because synthetic drugs are easier and cheaper to produce. Traditional drugs need expensive natural materials — opium resin for heroin and cocaine leaves for cocaine — whereas the chemicals necessary to make amphetamines are available legally and are cheaper than the illegal, natural, opium-based products.

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