Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia



                        Extent of Drug Abuse
Opium : There were an estimated 200.000 people who used  opium in 1990, an annual prevalence of 500.4 per 100.000 population. One hundred thousand were daily abusers and 33.742 were registered  abusers.  Heroin: The estimated numbers of heroin users in 1990 was 47.788, an annual prevalence of 119.6 per 100.000. It was reported that 38.230 were daily abusers and 11.947 were registered addicts.  Cannabis: Use of cannabis is estimated to be very low, an annual prevalence rate of 10.9 in 1990 (4344 people).  Psycotropics: The annual prevalence of psychotropic use was 91.2 per 100.000 in 1987. The figures for 1988-1990 were not given.   The number of registered abusers was given as 4,556 in 1987.  The figures for subsequent years was not given.

                       Abuser Characteristics
 Opium users were reported in 1988 to be urban dwellers of all classes, and generally unemployed.  In 1989 and 1990 opium users were described as rural, from the border regions, mostly cultivators farmers, manual labourers and fishermen, and mostly employed. Very few were women (varying from 0-2.2%). Drugs were taken by mouth. The age range was likely to be 30-50.  Heroin users are described in 1988 as urban dwellers generally unemployed, however in 1989 they are described as urban dwellers in lower, northern and eastern Myanmar, of higher and middle social class and mostly employed.  In 1990 the picture is of lower to middle class users mostly unemployed or low income group. Heroin use is by injection. Very few are women (0.4-1%).  Cannabis abusers are both urban and rural of low social classes, manual labourers and unemployed persons, mostly between the ages of 20-35.  The drug is generally either smoked or taken with food.  Very few of the abusers are women
Psychotropics abusers tend to be between 15-29 and to abuse these drugs along with alcohol.  They tend to be urban, and to come from  the lower, central and north western part of the country. All social classes are represented as well as students and school drop outs, and those that are not properly employed.

                         Regional Variations
None reported

 There has been a 5.2% increase in the prevalence of opium use between 1988-90, and an increase of 1.6% in the numbers of registered opium users. Between 1988-90 there has been a 22% increase in the prevalence of heroin use and a 22% increase in registered heroin abusers. However, between 1988 and 1989 there was a marked decrease (95%) of the prevalence of sedative-hypnotic drugs. (The figures for 1990 were not reported). There has been an increase in the use of cannabis from an annual prevalence of 3.1 in 1985 to treble that figure (10.9) in 1990.  However, the numbers of registered abusers remained the same between 1985-1990.

                             Mode of intake

None reported


None reported


                           National Strategy
There is a continuously maintained register of known drug abusers kept nationally. In addition there are statistics on the number of people receiving or requesting treatment for drug abuse.  Data on the numbers of deaths resulting from or related to drug abuse has been reported in 1989, 1990.

The estimates of the number of abusers are based on known registered cases, medico-legal assessments and clinical impression



                           Treaty adherence
None reported


                          Primary Prevention
Drug abuse prevention programmes use the media, produce documentary photographs, hold exhibitions and educative talks, publish newspapers, journals, magazines, posters and pamphlets, and produce and screen documentary and feature films.

                 Treatment and Rehabilitation

In 1988 there were 1437 people who sought treatment for the first time of whom 80% had relapsed by the end of the first year after leaving treatment. The numbers seeking treatment for the first time in the following year dropped by about half (to 732)  - the rate of recidivism remained the same. In 1990 the numbers seeking help rose again to 1988 level (1468) though the rate of recidivism had gone up to 85%. The numbers treated for the first time for cannabis problems remain small: numbering 19 people in 1990.

Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration programmes are carried out by the Department of Social Welfare under the Ministry of Social Welfare.  They established a network of social support centres that provide counselling, guidance, after-care and follow-up services and vocational and trade training. In addition the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control provides treatment programmes at Wettigan and Phekhone Kathe Kwin Rehabilitation Centre.

There has been a steady increase in rehabilitation activity from 22 former drug abusers rehabilitated in 1988 to 617 in 1990.


      Arrests, Convictions and types of Offences
In 1990 there were 8941 arrests for the possession or abuse of drugs. Of these 1285 were women and the rest men. Most of the arrestees were between the ages of 20-30, and 30+ years.

The overall numbers of arrests  for drug offenses has been increasing in Myanmar between 1985- 1990.  Previous arrest figures given in 1987 show the total numbers of arrestees to be 3,462, and in 1989 these had risen to 8056.  The figures for arrests for trafficking offenses is only given in 1985 (when no figures for arrests for possession are given) In that year a total of 3630 were arrested for trafficking.  For the years 1985-7 no figures are given for  convictions. In 1988 the numbers of those convicted was  4243 of whom 644 were women. In 1989 the figure for convictions had risen to 8012  of whom 1307 were women, and to 8941 in 1990 of whom 1285 were women.

None reported

                      Supply Source of Drugs

None Reported

                       References and Notes

Replies to Annual Reports Questionnaire (1985-1990).  Replies to the questionnaire concerning the seven targets of the Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control (CMO) (1990 and 1991).