Yaba use goes up by 77 times in 6yrs

The use Yaba, a narcotic drug, has increased in the country by 77 times (7621%) over the part six years. The intake of other drugs like Phensidyl and heroin has fallen somewhat.

Marijuana use has increased to a certain degree.

This was revealed in the Annual Narcotics report 2013, published by the Directorate of Narcotics Control. The report is based on the records of drugs recovered from 2008 to 2013.

The report said that the recovered drugs are not the only indicators of the rate of narcotics use. However, in Bangladesh, the records of recovered drugs are used to get an idea of drug usage. The concerned officials say that many times more Yaba is used in the country that is actually caught.

Bazlur Rahman, director general (DG) of the narcotics control directorate, exchanged views with the media yesterday, Monday. The report was handed over the journalists at the meet. The DG and other officials of the directorate expressed their concern at the increased use of Yaba.

The DG also said that Bangladesh still hadn't reached the degree of Yaba usage as in other countries and Yaba was still counted "per piece" here. In Thailand they counted it per ton.

The report stated that the number of Yaba tablets recovered on 2008 was 36,543; in 2009 it was 129,644; in 2010 it was 812,716; in 2011 it was 1,360,186; in 2012 it was 1,951,392; and in 2013 it was 2,821.528. This shows that the in comparison to 2008, the amount of Yaba recovered was 77 times in 2013.

Amir Hossain, additional director general, said in the past Yaba use was restricted to certain wealthier areas of Dhaka, but now it was even available in the village tea stalls. It was not possible for the narcotics control directorate or the law enforcement agencies to control this problem.

According to the directorate, about four billion dollars (around Tk 310 billion) is spent on narcotic drugs in Bangladesh every year. About five million people use such drugs in the country. Abu Taleb, additional director of the directorate, said that over 50% of the drug users in Bangladesh took Yaba. Yaba comes to Bangladesh just from Myanmar.

Various intelligence agency reports state that Abdur Rahman Badi, ruling party parliamentarian of Cox's Bazar, as well as other local people's representatives, are involved in the Yaba business. Nazrul Islam Sikder, the directorate's additional director (intelligence), said that they have listed the names of those involved in Yaba smuggling and sent it on to the concerned authorities.

The report quoted intelligence sources, saying there were Yaba factories at Mongdu in Myanmar, 10km from the Bangladesh border. Yaba is the most common item being smuggled in now. The Rohingyas are transporting this Yaba from Cox's Bazar to Dhaka and all over the country. Recently even some school and college students, as well as women, were caught smuggling Yaba.

The DG said that initiative had been taken at a diplomatic level for talks with the Myanmar government. The smuggling in on Phensidyl had abated to an extent after talks with India through diplomatic channels. The India government removed the Phensidyl factories which had mushroomed along the border with Bangladesh.

Yaba increases, others decrease: The report stated that while Yaba was spreading rapidly, the use of other drugs had fallen. In 2009 a total of 159kg of heroin was recovered. In 2013 the amount of recovered heroin was 123kg. In 2009 a total of 1,117,000 bottles of Phensidyl was recovered. In 2013 this fell to 987,000 bottles. The mount of marijuana recovered went up a bit. In 2003 about 33,000kg of marijuana was recovered. In 2013 this was 35,000kg.

Harm caused by Yaba: Professor Tajul Islam of the National Mental health Institute, told Prothom Alo, upon intake of Yaba there is an initial rush of energy, sexual power increases and all weariness disappears. This is a stimulant. In the long term it has an extremely harmful impact on the nervous system. It destroys the normal structure and functioning of the nervous system. People under this drug often face psychosis syndrome. Immediately after taking Yaba, there is an excitement. Then after some time there is a sense of depression and exhaustion. There is also risk of brain haemorrhage or stroke.

Persons involved in the treatment of drug addiction say that most of these coming for treatment are Yaba addicts. Khandakar Rashiduzzaman, consultant at the drug rehabilitation centre Ashokti Punorbashon Nibash (APON), said that there are 270 patients at their Apongaon centre in Manikganj, of whom over 80% are addicted to Yaba.

Pending cases: At the meeting it was said that over 10,000 cases are filed every year regarding narcotics. In 2013, only 2,275 of the cases were settled. The rest of the cases remain pending.