|Police seized khat leaves at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport. Medical experts and police have warned that young people are being lured by new kinds of drugs. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hải|
HÀ NỘI — Medics and police are seeing an increase in illegal drug use countrywide – and are warning users of the potential dangers associated with narcotics.
In some cases, drugs are mixed into food and drinks in an attempt to get more young people hooked.
But doctors say the consequences can be deadly and many of the drugs are hallucinogenic.
On top of the more common drugs found in Việt Nam, like marijuana and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), there has been an increase in methamphetamine, also called crystal meth, and khat leaves.
In the past, heroin was often to drug of choice among addicts but according to Doctor Nguyễn Trung Nguyên from Bạch Mai Hospital’s Poison Control Centre, they are seeing fewer cases in recent years.
Often, he said, young people are taking large doses of prescription drugs in order to get high after getting misinformation online.
Staff at his hospital also struggle to treat addicts as many are aggressive and threaten to attack the people there to help them.
The effects overdosing include high body temperatures, seizures, hallucinations and, in the long term, mental problems.
Doctor Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, vice director of HCM City’s Consultation and Rehabilitation Centre drug use is not only restricted to the younger generation.
“First, they could control their drug use but after that, they usually increased drug dose and uncontrolledly, overdosed, which resulted in drug poisoning,” Hùng said.
In Việt Nam, magic mushroom use has also become popular as it’s easy to buy on the web.
The mushrooms contain psilocybin, a strong hallucinogenic substance, which begins to work after just 30 minutes.
Effects include strange perceptions of colour, sound and light, surfaces can appear to move or ripple and the user often feels nauseous and weak with the ‘high’ lasting as long as eight hours.
Colonel Lê Thanh Liêm, vice head of Drug Crime Investigation Department (C47) told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper that previously, narcotics imported to Việt Nam were mostly heroin and ecstasy but in the last few years, synthetic drugs dominated 85 per cent of the market.
Drug traffickers also used more sophisticated tricks to smuggle narcotics into the country.
In the past, drugs would come from China through Hải Phòng City then distributed nationwide.
Now smugglers are bringing in drugs through Cambodia to HCM City and then, transported to the north.
New drug like khát leaves or magic mushroom had much more toxicity than that of conventional narcotics, Liêm said.
“In order to meet young people’s taste, drug makers keep changing formulas of drugs which causes difficulties in detecting and preventing drug crime,” Liêm said.
Another C47 official Bùi Đức Thiêm said drug users in Việt Nam used mostly heroin in the past but now, there were about 100 kinds of drug detected in the country.
Synthetic drugs are made from precursor substances, for example alkaloid cathinone in khát (Catha edulis) leaves. The mixture of different precursors or different proportions could produce different kind of synthetic drug, Thiêm said.
“If we are better at control precursor substances, we can curb the use of synthetic drugs,” he said, noting that two years ago the importation of khát leaves and magic mushroom was banned..
Before it wasn’t on the watch list as authorities were unaware of its potential dangers. — VNS