Heroin Epidemic Dramatically Impacting Myanmar

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated October 31, 2014

Heroin is an active killer in many nations throughout the world, but we often focus on how it’s impacting Americans within the borders of our 50 states. However, this deadly, opium-based drug is taking over the lives of people from all different cultures – and destroying their countries as well.

For those living in Myanmar, a country nestled between Bangladesh, Laos and China, their world gets darker and darker by the day. Not only is the Asian country torn apart by war, governmental dysfunction and guerilla troops, but it has also succumb to the presence of destructive force – heroin.

According to the Kachin Baptist Convention, 80% of children and teenagers in Kachin State, Myanmar are addicted to drugs such as heroin. In addition, adults and elderly individuals alike are also addicted to heroin – so much so that syringes have now become a form of currency.

With an out-of-control government and a thick spread of rebellion flowing through Myanmar, currency has almost become a joke. Rather than receiving change back at local stores and shops, clerks are offering everything from tissues and mints to clean syringes for shooting heroin and sterilized water for helping mix powdered heroin into an injectable format.

The saddest part about this situation is not that this country has hit such a rock bottom, but that many of the people through Myanmar are accepting of it and participate in it. Heroin is so cheap throughout the country that one solid hit only costs about $1. Outside of Afghanistan, Myanmar currently produces the most opium in the world.

A 61-year-old woman referred to as “Esther”, the founder of an anti-drug vigilante group near Muse, Myanmar stated that, “where we live, police can barely reach us. So people make up the law themselves.”

Being more secluded from other parts of the world has had a major impact on those who are struggling with heroin addiction in Myanmar. Drug treatment is so poor that when individuals go looking for it, they are sent off into the jungles and locked in cages throughout their detox period – far different from the types of treatment we offer here in The United States.

As we continue to hear stories about how places such as Afghanistan and Myanmar are losing their battles to heroin addiction, we can only continue to raise awareness here in The States. We can do this by keeping ourselves informed of what is happening in other countries, learning what kinds of treatment we have available in our country, and what we can do to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from experimenting with this deadly, debilitating substance.



Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.