New drugs and precursors emerge in Vietnam

By Le Nga, Tuan Hoang   October 30, 2018 | 06:09 pm PT
New drugs and precursors emerge in Vietnam
Ecstasy is one of the new drugs emerging in Vietnam in recent years. Photo by Shutterstock/lukakcul
Over the last three years, hundreds of new types of drugs and precursors have found their way into Vietnam.

In 2015, 292 types of narcotics and precursors were found in Vietnam. Three years later, this number was 559.

Synthetic drugs like ecstasy, bath salt, LSD, heaven leaf are already popular but some new substances yet to be listed trigger high levels of hallucination, and are easily available. They can also be addictive.

The abuse of these new types of drugs can also lead to poisoning and HIV infections (through shared needles), said Hoang Vinh Bao, an official with the National Committee on AIDS, Drugs and Prostitution Prevention and Control.

In 2017, there were approximately 223,000 people using narcotics in Vietnam, 12,000 more than the previous year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Each year, about 1,600 people die of drug overdose in Vietnam. A staggering $93.7 million is spent on buying drugs and $44.6 million on running rehab facilities.

In the first half of 2018, arrests were made in approximately 13,000 drug-related cases, in which 18,500 people were detained, and 880 kilograms of heroin, 500,000 ecstasy pills, 1.3 tons of cannabis and 2.5 tons of catha edulis leaves were seized.

A representative from Ministry of Public Security said that one of the current problems with the drug scene were criminals who mix chemicals to create synthetic drugs to maximize profit and extend their effects; and at the same time, make them easier to conceal.

The first six months of 2018 saw 3,500 people test positive for HIV, down 3 percent from the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Administration of HIV/AIDS Control, Ministry of Health.

However, experts worry that the number of people contracting HIV through unprotected sex when using synthetic drugs can increase among the youth.

Vietnam is a key trafficking hub for narcotics despite having some of the world’s toughest drug laws.

Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamines face the death penalty. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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