HA NOI (VNS)— Heroin and opium remain the main drugs of consumption in Viet Nam but amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) continue to expand in amount and diversity, according to a United Nations world drug report released yesterday.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), ATS use had expanded continually for the past decade. Since 2010, they had become the second most widely used drug in Viet Nam after heroin.
In the last few years, new psychoactive substances (NPS) had emerged in the illicit drug market. The use of NPS was indicated to be increasing in the country with many drug users purchasing these substances on the internet, some of which were often found in pills sold as "ecstasy".
The use of ATS and other illicit drugs was most prevalent among young drug users in big cities, border areas and industrial zones and continued to rise in rural areas.
By the end of 2012, the number of officially registered drug users reached 172,000, an increase of 8.5 per cent over the previous year. Male users accounted for 96 per cent, 50 per cent of drug users were aged between 16 and 29, 49.8 per cent were over 29 and 0.02 per cent were less than 16.
In term of patterns of drug use, heroin users accounted for 84.7 per cent, synthetic drugs users 6.5 per cent, opium users 6.4 per cent, cannabis users 1.6 per cent, addictive pharmaceutical substances 0.3 per cent, others 0.5 per cent.
Last year, dug law enforcement agencies investigated over 20,900 cases, arrested nearly 31,500 people involving in drug crime and seized more than 692kg of heroin, 225kg of opium, 1,000 tonnes of fresh cannabis, 164kg of dried cannabis, 192kg and 500,000 tablets of synthetics drug.
Speaking at a ceremony to launch the report yesterday, UN resident co-ordinator in Viet Nam Pratibha Mehta said the number of drug seizures and cross-border trafficking operations and the danger of abuse of ATS and new psychoactive substances among Vietnamese youth was increasing.
She said it was needed to help young people become more aware of the harmful consequences of these substances.
Zhuldyz Akisheva, country manager of UNODC Viet Nam, said that besides suffering from health problems, drug users in Viet Nam faced obstacles in accessing treatment services due to a shortage of services and discrimination from the public.
Another major challenge was that new psychoactive substances had emerged but their harm to human health had yet to be identified properly.
Roughly 47,000 drug users accessed treatment services last year, of which nearly 30,000 users were newly admitted. Four fifths of the newly admitted users received treatment in rehabilitation centres while the rest received community-and-family-based treatment.
Akisheva said UNODC and the World Health Organisation were piloting the implementation of comprehensive, voluntary and effective drug dependence treatment at the provincial level.
The community-based treatment, instead of compulsory rehabilitation at centres, would help drug users easily access care services. — VNS