Vietnam introduces meth de-addiction regimen as use becomes widespread

By Phan Anh   March 13, 2019 | 09:34 pm PT
Vietnam introduces meth de-addiction regimen as use becomes widespread
Vietnam has devised its first regimen to treat methamphetamine addicts. Photo by Shutterstock/Metamorphic Photography
Vietnam has created its first regimen for treating synthetic drug addicts, and it combines medication with psychological support.

The addiction in Vietnam is being treated solely with psychological methods, but the new regimen by the Health Ministry suggests that it should go along with using medication.

Some medicines like D-amphetamine, methylphenidate, bupropion, mirtazapine and naltrexone can help reduce the amount of drugs used while others can prevent halluciation triggered by the drugs, it said.

Doctors will use behavioral and psychological intervention and counseling, along with support from the patient’s family, to help users understand the harm, and the unnecessity of using drugs. The psychological treatment also aims to help them overcome discrimination.

Vietnam has more than 222,000 drug addicts by the end of 2017, and an increasing number of them depend on synthetic drugs like methamphetamin, ecstasy, or ketamine, according to police figures.

In Da Nang in central Vietnam, synthetic drug users account for 86 percent of drug addicts. The rate in the central province of Quang Tri is 84 percent and the southern province of Tra Vinh 91 percent.

Criminal cases involving the use of drugs, specifically methamphetamine, have been prominently featured on local media recently.

On Monday, a 26-year-old man murdered his parents and paternal grandmother in Saigon’s Hoc Mon District under the influence of methamphetamine, believing that his family was against his love for a woman. He has been arrested.

Earlier this year, 8 people were killed and 8 others were injured in the northern province of Hai Duong when a truck driver rammed into a group of pedestrians walking along the National Highway 5. The driver was later found to be high on meth.

Drug use is not rare among Vietnamese truck drivers with heavy workloads, people familiar with the matter have said.

Last year, a 20-year-old woman was killed when a man shoved over 30 garlic cloves inside her mouth to "exorcise" her while under the influence of meth. The man was recently sentenced to 13 years in jail for his crime.

Despite having some of the world’s toughest drug laws, drug trafficking and consumption have persisted and worsened in Vietnam of late. The country has become a key trafficking hub for narcotics in and around the "Golden Triangle," a lawless wedge of land straddling China, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar that is the world's second largest drug producing region.

Production of methamphetamine is also skyrocketing in Southeast Asia, with prices dropping and usage expanding, according to a report by the United Nations’ anti-drug agency released Monday.

"Data on seizures, prices, use and treatment all point to continuing expansion of the methamphetamine market in East and Southeast Asia," said Tun Nay Soe, the agency's inter-regional program coordinator.

Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a central nervous system stimulant mainly used for recreational purposes as well as a second-line treatment for attention deficit disorder. Physical effects upon usage include loss of appetite, hyperactivity and irregular heartbeat, while an overdose could result in confusion, rapid breathing and brain damage.

The chemical’s production, distribution, sale, and possession is restricted or banned in many countries due to its placement in schedule II of the United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances treaty.

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