By Austin Cherkas | THAILAND
Thailand has a new problem: drug addiction. This epidemic plagues many of the country’s southern provinces. Villages are now using the drug known as Kratom. Kratom has only four key ingredients – A local plant called Kratom, ice, Coca-Cola, and cough syrup. Kratom is sold for roughly 100 Thai baht ($2.90) per kit.
Other drugs are also rampaging southern villages, such as drugs like methamphetamine, and ya ba, a stimulant that contains methamphetamine and caffeine. All of these drugs have caused crippling addiction to many of the village’s population, especially those aged 14 to 30. Theft has also increased exponentially, as the Thai military pinpoints it to the desperation of addicts trying to obtain more money to fund their addiction.
Divorce rates are rising as well, last year in the Pattani province, 80% of the 525 filings for divorce were drug related. This has deeply hurt the Muslim community. Ahama Hayeedermee, secretary of Pattani’s Islamic Council made a statement on how drug addiction has hurt youth relationships,
Nowadays, when a man makes a marriage proposal, the first question the father will ask her daughter is if [her boyfriend] takes any drugs
It is estimated that in the Province of Pattani, nearly 90% of the populations uses drugs. Many youths are dropping out of school as a result.
The Thai Military Government points the blame to the southern insurgency, saying that the drugs are supposed to target youth so that they will join the insurgency. Col. Suwan Chirdshai of the Internal Security Operations Command states, “Many times when we arrest drug kingpins, we also find war weapons”.
This contrasts what many citizens of Thailand believe. Phrae Sirisakdamkoeng, an assistant professor of anthropology at Silpakorn University explains, “The government discourse is that those spreading drugs are insurgency groups… but they [local people] think that it’s the government who is bringing in the drugs”.
Villages along with the Thai Government are adopting strategies to stop addiction. Some villages use their own way of dealing with the problem, but most use mediation and education.
Names of villagers were changed to protect their identity in a BBC article.
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