BANGKOK, Dec 19 – Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said nearly two million persons are projected to be using illicit drugs next year, even as the ministry targeted the rehabilitation of at least 300,000 drug addicts.
Deputy Health Minister Sophon Petchsawang said the drug situation in the country is still worrisome and the number of drug-involved persons tends to increase.
Department of Medical Services Deputy Director-General Dr Jirot Sindhvananda said about 1,900,000 Thais are expected to be entangled with drugs in 2013, with the government targeted 300,000 for rehabilitation and another 700,000 under ongoing rehabilitation and close watch.
Dr Jirot said the government will increase the quality and efficiency of its rehabilitation programme, noting that last year about 460,000 persons received approximately 4-month treatment per person.
The deputy director general added that methamphetamines are listed as top illicit drug, followed by crystal methamphetamine or ‘ice’, and marijuana, with the drug addiction rate among youth having risen.
The record youngest drug addict is a nine-year old boy who has been lured to take drugs and worked as a distributor to avoid police observation, said Dr Jirot.
Among the patients at the ministry’s five drug rehab centres, he said, 80 per cent are outpatients as they are not heavily addicted to drugs, 20 per cent must stay at the centres, while another 10 per cent are in the group who have become readdicted to drugs. Some have returned to receive treatment for the third time after first rehab course.