Epidemiological studies are carried out by the National Drug Research Centre, Malaysia on various aspects of drug use and abuse. One of the groups of substances studied are the opioid agonist-antagonists. The study utilised information submitted to international agencies and obtained through a questionnaire survey. The results showed that out of 28 countries studied, 18 reported existence of illicit traffic in these substances and of this, 17 indicated seizures. A majority of countries were unable to give consumption data and the limited information available did not allow any significant conclusions. The study did not demonstrate a significant problem of abuse globally.
Information from the national drug abuse monitoring system was analysed to determine the trends in extent and pattern of drug dependence in Malaysia over the period 1970 to 1986. The annual incidence and prevalence rates of reported drug dependents increased by many folds when compared to the early seventies. Generally, the profile of drug dependents identified has remained relatively stable throughout the years. A stable pattern of drug abuse was also noted over this period. Factors influencing the trend patterns are discussed, as well as the implications of these findings for policy purposes.
Monitoring systems are useful epidemiological instruments for assessing the problem of drug abuse. The rapid growth of the drug dependence problem in Malaysia led to increased awareness of the need for a system for continuous monitoring of the situation. Preliminary work on the design of an appropriate monitoring system was initiated in 1976. A fully integrated national reporting system was established in 1978, linking all public services and agencies coming into contact with drug-dependent persons, including law enforcement agencies, drug abuse treatment and rehabilitation centres, and social and welfare institutions. The information system included a mechanism for systematic gathering, processing, analysing and presenting essential data on the prevention, control and management of drug abuse problems. It also included reporting on drug-related events, such as hospitalizations and arrests, as well as data on known drug-dependent persons and new cases of dependence. The system has been used for routine monitoring of the extent, trends, patterns and other characteristics of drug abuse problems in Malaysia, providing basic information for policy-making and programme planning. On the basis of data generated by the system, it was estimated that the prevalence rate of drug-dependent persons per 100,000 population increased from 84.3 in 1976 to 754.6 in 1986. It was estimated that there were 119,001 drug-dependent persons in Malaysia in 1986.
Although those Malaysian secondary schoolchildren who have never used drugs are consistent in their support for legal and social sanctions against drug use, it is argued that such sanctions are a relatively unimportant factor in the decision whether or not to use drugs. Non-drug users inhabit a social world separated from their drug-using contemporaries; they rely on information from public rather than direct social sources, and claim to have been little interested in information received. However, there is evidence that, for a minority of the drug-using sub-sample, public information campaigns have made them more rather than less interested in experimenting with drug substances.
A survey was conducted on three different groups of population viz. inpatients in the medical wards of General Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, the people of Kampong Pandan and two rubber estates as to their analgesic consuming habits. It is found that 0.5 to 2.0% of the people surveyed had consumed more than 2 kg of analgesics and 4.6 to 9.6% of the people surveyed had consumed more than 250g of analgesics. The commonest analgesic consumed is paracetamol followed by Chap Kaki Tiga and Chap Harimau. The commonest reason for consuming analgesic is headache. The implications of the above findings are discussed.
Abuse of new psychoactive substances (NPSs) among youths is increasing at an unprecedented rate all over the world. In Asia, abuse of synthetic cannabinoids (SCs), kratom, and poppers has been reported, but up to date information related to abuse of these three NPSs is lacking. This literature review focuses on the recent abuse of these three NPS among Asian youth. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the abuse statuses of SCs in Asian youth in Turkey, Japan, and Korea, and many cases of kratom abuse have been reported in Malaysia and Thailand. In addition, concerns have been expressed about the use of kratom in combination with other substances by teenagers. Popper abuse has been reported among many young people in Asia, including Korea and China, and many studies on popper abuse have focused on men who have sex with men in China and Malaysia. Since NPS abuse can have severe adverse effects and create social problems, there is a continuing need to investigate NPS abuse status continuously among young people.
Drug abuse and co-occurring infections are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Asian countries are particularly vulnerable to the deleterious consequences of these risks/problems, as they have some of the highest rates of these diseases. This review describes drug abuse, HIV, and hepatitis C (HCV) in Asian countries. The most commonly used illicit drugs include opioids, amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), cannabis, and ketamine. Among people who inject drugs, HIV rates range from 6.3 % in China to 19 % in Malaysia, and HCV ranges from 41 % in India and Taiwan to 74 % in Vietnam. In the face of the HIV epidemics, drug policies in these countries are slowly changing from the traditional punitive approach (e.g., incarcerating drug users or requiring registration as a drug user) to embrace public health approaches, including, for example, community-based treatment options as well as harm reduction approaches to reduce needle sharing and thus HIV transmission. HIV and HCV molecular epidemiology indicates limited geographic diffusion. While the HIV prevalence is declining in all five countries, use of new drugs (e.g., ATS, ketamine) continues to increase, as well as high-risk sexual behaviors associated with drug use-increasing the risk of sexual transmission of HIV, particularly among men who have sex with men. Screening, early intervention, and continued scaling up of therapeutic options (drug treatment and recovery support, ART, long-term HIV and HCV care for drug users) are critical for effective control or continued reduction of drug abuse and co-infections.
Throughout Southeast Asia, repressive drug laws have resulted in high rates of imprisonment in people who inject drugs (PWID) and people living with HIV (PLH), greatly magnifying the harm associated with HIV, tuberculosis, and addiction. We review findings from Malaysia's largest prison to describe the negative synergistic effects of HIV, tuberculosis, addiction, and incarceration that contribute to a 'perfect storm' of events challenging public and personal health and offer insights into innovative strategies to control these converging epidemics. The majority of PLH who are imprisoned in Malaysia are opioid dependent PWID. Although promoted by official policy, evidence-based addiction treatment is largely unavailable, contributing to rapid relapse and/or overdose after release. Similarly, HIV treatment in prisons and compulsory drug treatment centers is sometimes inadequate or absent. The prevalence of active tuberculosis is high, particularly in PLH, and over 80 % of prisoners and prison personnel are latently infected. Mandatory HIV testing and subsequent segregation of HIV-infected prisoners increases the likelihood of tuberculosis acquisition and progression to active disease, amplifying the reservoir of infection for other prisoners. We discuss strategies to control these intersecting epidemics including screening linked to standardized treatment protocols for all three conditions, and effective transitional programs for released prisoners. For example, recently introduced evidence-based interventions in prisons like antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV, isoniazid preventive therapy to treat latent tuberculosis infection, and methadone maintenance to treat opioid dependence, have markedly improved clinical care and reduced morbidity and mortality. Since introduction of these interventions in September 2012, all-cause and HIV-related mortality have decreased by 50.0 % and 75.7 %, respectively. We discuss the further deployment of these interventions in Malaysian prisons.
Social network analysis (SNA) and social network-based interventions (SNI) are important analytical tools harnessing peer and family influences critical for HIV prevention and treatment among substance users. While SNA is an effective way to measure social network influences, SNI directly or indirectly involves network members in interventions. Even though these methods have been applied in heterogeneous ways, leading to extensive evidence-based practices, systematic reviews are however, lacking. We searched five bibliographic databases and identified 58 studies involving HIV in substance users that had utilized SNA or SNI as part of their methodology. SNA was used to measure network variables as inputs in statistical/mathematical models in 64 % of studies and only 22 % of studies used SNI. Most studies focused on HIV prevention and few addressed diagnosis (k = 4), care linkage and retention (k = 5), ART adherence (k = 2), and viral suppression (k = 1). This systematic review highlights both the advantages and disadvantages of social network approaches for HIV prevention and treatment and gaps in its use for HIV care continuum.
Evidence indicates that detention of people who use drugs in compulsory centers in the name of treatment is common in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The expansion of such practices has been costly, has not generated positive health outcomes, and has not reduced supply or demand for illicit drugs. United Nations agencies have convened several consultations with government and civil society stakeholders in order to facilitate a transition to voluntary evidence- and community-based drug dependence treatment and support services. In an effort to support such efforts, an informal group of experts proposes a three-step process to initiate and accelerate national-level transitions. Specifically, the working group recommends the establishment of a national multisectoral decision-making committee to oversee the development of national transition plans, drug policy reform to eliminate barriers to community-based drug dependence treatment and support services, and the integration of community-based drug dependence treatment in existing national health and social service systems.In parallel, the working group recommends that national-level transitions should be guided by overarching principles, including ethics, human rights, meaningful involvement of affected communities, and client safety, as well as good governance, transparency, and accountability. The transition also represents an opportunity to review the roles and responsibilities of various agencies across the public health and public security sectors in order to balance the workload and ensure positive results. The need to accelerate national-level transitions to voluntary community-based drug dependence treatment and support services is compelling--on economic, medical, sustainable community development, and ethical grounds--as extensively documented in the literature. In this context, the expert working group fully endorses initiation of a transition towards voluntary evidence- and community-based drug dependence treatment and support services across the region, as well as the steady scale-down of compulsory centers for drug users.Components of voluntary community-based drug dependence treatment and support services are being implemented in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. However, significant technical and financial support will be required to be allocated from national budgets and by international development agencies in order to complete the transition and reduce the reliance on detention of people who use drugs in Asia.
The number of juvenile offenders admitted to Malaysian prisons is alarming. The purpose of this paper is to determine the presence of any psychiatric disorders and their association with personal characteristics of juvenile detainees in prisons across Peninsular Malaysia.
Betel-quid (BQ) contains biologically psychoactive ingredients; however, data are limited concerning the symptoms and syndrome of BQ dependence among chewers. The aims of this study were to evaluate the ingredients-associated BQ dependence syndrome and country-specific chewing features and behaviour for BQ dependence among chewers from six Asian communities.
Tobacco smoking (TS) and illicit drug use (IDU) are of public health concerns especially in developing countries, including Bangladesh. This paper aims to (i) identify the determinants of TS and IDU, and (ii) examine the association of TS with IDU among young slum dwellers in Bangladesh.
Solvent abuse is deliberate sniffing of an organic solvent for the intention of altering the physiological state of the individual. It is also commonly known as glue sniffing because glue is the most commonly abused substance. This form of substance abuse is widespread throughout the world and usually popular among secondary school children and young adults because of its easy availability and it is cheaper compared with most drugs of abuse. In Malaysia this problem has been recognized especially among the children in East Malaysia. In this study, 37 children and young adults from or around Kota Kinabalu, Sabah were referred to Bukit Padang Psychiatric Hospital by the Anti-drug Task force for suspected solvent abuse. These children were interviewed using questionaire and examined physically. Blood and urine were analysed for toluene and hippuric acid. 27 of the children, age ranging between 8 and 20 years, willingly admitted to sniffing glue for a period between a few months to 2 years. Most of them were children of Fillipino illegal immigrants in Kota Kinabalu. Biochemical parameters were found to be normal. Two of them were pale with low hemoglobin and 7 had eosinophilia. Haematuria and proteinuria were found in 21 children (78%). 16 blood samples with toluene levels ranging from 0.3 to 41 microg/ml and 10 urine samples have elevated urinary hippuric acid levels ranging from 1.2 to 7.4 mg/ml. Strong positive correlation was noted between mean blood toluene levels and duration of abuse.