Myanmar is one of the world’s main sources of opiates and methamphetamines, and this production fuels rampant addiction in the country.
Opiates, especially heroin, are the most prevalent drug in Myanmar, feeding the habits of some 66,000 heroin users and 67,000 opium users, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2010 World Drug Report released this week.
In 2009, the country produced 330 tons of opiates, accounting for 17 percent of global cultivation, while methamphetamine seizures skyrocketed from one million tablets in 2008 to 23 million in 2009.
In the border areas of Shan and Kachin states, the region where most of the opium is produced, about 1.5 percent of the adult population is addicted.
Myanmar’s first methadone therapy programme was established in March 2006, set up in drug treatment centres in several cities and towns across the country.
There is only one methadone clinic in Yangon, at the San Pya Hospital, and patients make daily appointments for treatment.
Burma is the world’s second largest producer of heroin, accounting for 23 per cent of the land used for illicit poppy cultivation and 10 per cent of global opium production, says the UNODC.
Pray for new economic possibilities, for those who are benefitting most from this illegal trade to be exposed and their wealth to vanish, for those caught up in the self-harm of drug abuse, and for the church to reach out to them.