Myanmars Drug Epidemic

2017023 Shan state
Workers harvesting opium in the mountains of Shan State, Myanmar.
Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad / Kontinent

By Vilhelm Stokstad – Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world, after Afghanistan, and one of the main producers of Methamphetamine. Farmers and workers in the the mountains of Shan State are growing poppy as a way to send their children to school. Others are using opium to get rid of the pain after a long hard working day. In Kachin State, the christian organization Pat Jasan is arresting junkies on the streets, giving them the choice of prison or rehabilitation. Their methods are cruel, locking drug users in wooden cages, and surrounding their rehabilitation centers with barbed wire.
In Yangon, the availability of Methamphetamine and cheap Heroin have led to a drug epidemic. An anonymous drug user tells us about prisons overflowing with drugs to control the prisoners and youngsters using Meth as recreation. The majority of the drugs are exported though, to larger markets in China and Thailand, through rebel groups in the border regions of Myanmar.
This area, known as the Golden Triangle, is still a very active area of trade.