Tue, Jul 27, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Drug use growing among young despite crackdown


More young Thais are using drugs than during the government's controversial "war" on the illegal trade that left more than 2,000 people dead, according to a survey yesterday.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's government declared the campaign officially over last December but a university poll of nearly 15,000 youngsters found that the proportion of those admitting to drug use had nearly doubled since May last year.

Thailand was criticized over its harsh tactics that reached their peak early last year, with claims of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests, but the project had the overwhelming support of the Thai public, concerned over an epidemic of youth drug addiction.

The poll found that 5.4 percent of youths surveyed over the last two months said they had taken illegal drugs at least once, compared with 2.8 percent in a poll conducted in May last year, just after the violent first phase of the government campaign.

"The number of youths who use drugs has increased in every part of the country ... compared to the last study conducted in May 2003," said the survey, which was conducted by Bangkok's Assumption University.

The problem was worst in the insurgency-hit south, where nearly 10 percent of respondents said they had used drugs, it said.

Methamphetamines that have flooded over the border from Myanmar and marijuana were the most popularly used drugs, according to the survey, which was conducted from June 1 until last Saturday.

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