By Manager Daily 15 May 2006 01:28
Methamphetamine use among teenagers in and around Bangkok is more than seven times higher than it was prior to the ‘war on drugs’ declared by the government three years ago, an ABAC Poll has revealed.
Pollsters calculated that more than 41,000 teenagers took methamphetamine, commonly known as ya ba, in the past 30 days, a 723-percent increase from the 5,060 teenagers estimated to be using the drug following a survey made in May 2003.
The most recent poll, conducted from April 20 to May 13, questioned 4,078 teenagers in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan on their attitude toward drug use.
Announcing the results of the poll yesterday, ABAC Poll director Noppadol Kannika revealed that almost a third of respondents did not consider beer or wine to be addictive substances.
Among the teens questioned, 85.9 percent thought smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day was harmful, while five percent thought there was no risk associated with smoking.
More than two-thirds of respondents considered drinking more than five alcoholic drinks over a weekend to be dangerous to one’s health, while 23 percent said it posed no risk.
Only 14.9 percent believed there was no risk in smoking marijuana occasionally, and 4.7 percent said there was no risk in regularly using methamphetamine.
The survey estimated that, of the 1.5 million teenagers in Bangkok and nearby provinces, 450,524 had drunk beer in the past 30 days, 313,789 had smoked cigarettes and 56,000 had smoked marijuana.
Noppadol said 54.3 percent of teenagers believe there is a drug problem in Thailand, with many saying drug use is increasing in entertainment venues, around their schools and in their communities.
Of those who think Thailand’s drug problem has resurfaced, 69.1 percent believe this is because officials do not take drug suppression seriously, with 60.7 percent saying the government’s drug policy is inconsistent.
Noppadol said the survey reflects the caretaker government’s failure to manage the drug problem despite widespread public approval for its ‘war on drugs’.
He added that the survey is a warning that drug use is returning to damage the lives of teens.
He asserted that the problem should be handled by independent agencies rather than the government, since most politicians are too concerned with securing good positions in the wake of the political crisis to pay any attention to people’s problems.