Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 3, 2007

Lessons on synthetic drug abuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:36 pm

NST: PUTRAJAYA: An anti-drugs subject may be introduced in universities to address the rising abuse of synthetic drugs among young people.
The National Anti-Drugs Agency (Nada) is fine-tuning the proposal.
Nada deputy director-general (operations), Prof Dr Mahmood Nazar Mohamed, said university students would be able to earn one credit from the programme which would go towards their cumulative grade point average.
“We hope to launch it soon. We are drawing up the budget now.”
Mahmood said the anti-drugs co-curricular subject would focus on drug issues and trends, and teach students how to reach out to drug users.
They will learn about methods used in the rehabilitation of drug addicts and drug prevention education.
The proposal is in line with Nada’s strategies to stem drug use, especially synthetic drugs, among youngsters and professionals.
Synthetic drugs or amphe-tamine-type stimulants (ATS) include Ecstasy, syabu, ice, and ketamine.
“We want to target university students so that they would stay away from drugs when they enter the working world.”
Statistics from Nada’s national drugs information system (Nadi) showed that last year, 1,700 teenagers and those in their 20s were sent for rehabilitation for synthetic drug use. There were also some 1,200 who fell under the 30-50 years age group.
More than 25 per cent were repeat cases. The highest number of synthetic drug addicts were Malays (52 per cent); Chinese (22 per cent); Sabah and Sarawak ethnic groups (19 per cent); and Indians (two per cent). The rest were foreigners.
Nearly 21 per cent were general workers, 12.8 per cent worked in sales and marketing, 12.5 per cent were construction workers, and the rest students, service workers and farmers.
The data only takes into account synthetic drug users needing rehab, which meant they were drug-dependent.
It does not include drug users and abusers — terms used to describe casual users and regular users.
Nada, with the Health Ministry, also proposed the setting up of an ATS research and treatment centre in Sungai Buloh.
“The centre will help us understand ATS addiction better and how to tailor effective treatment for ATS users.”
Heavy use of synthetic drugs can cause mental illness, symptoms of which can manifest themselves after three months of use.
Because of that, ATS addicts require psychiatric treatment to stabilise them before they can proceed to normal therapy.

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