Monday October 1, 2007
MYT 5:34:01 PM
Those with jobs and money now turning to drugs
By STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: A new trend of drug addiction has emerged in the country. More people who are rich, successful and educated are getting hooked on dangerous drugs, and more teenagers aged 13 to 15 are trying drugs for the first time. These latest statistics compiled by the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation are cause for extreme worry, said foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
His foundation has found that more than 91% of new drug addicts registered nationwide are those who have jobs, some of them very good paying jobs, and even those in management positions.
"The foundation is very worried with these latest findings as it indicates that modern-day stresses are driving many to go overboard and to seek ‘relief’ from drugs.
"There was a time when people had the notion that drug addiction was most common among those who had no jobs. This is not the case anymore.
"The latest statistics we have gathered for this year showed a very worrying situation. More than 91% of new drug addicts are those who are employed. Only 7.6% of new drug addicts are jobless people.
"The entertainment industry tops the list of industries having the most drug addicts, followed by the management levels, general labourers, transportation industry drivers, fishermen, students and construction workers.
“It seems that people who are resorting to drugs nowadays are those who have money, some of them a lot of money. They are getting hooked on drugs because they cannot handle the increasing stresses of life,” he said Monday after launching a Miri school-level drug awareness campaign in this resort-city.
Lee also disclosed a few other very worrying new findings:
That many 13 to 15-year-olds are trying drugs for the first time;
That 71% of new drug addicts are youths aged between 19 and 39;
That the number of registered drugs addicts is 300,000, but the real figure may be 1.2 million;
That hard-core addicts spend more than RM100 per day at least to feed their drug addictions;
That average-level drug addicts spend at least RM30 per day on drugs;
That at least 40% of snatch thieves, burglars and other petty criminals are drug addicts; and
That heroin and amphetamine stimulants are the most popular drugs.
"The fact that drug addiction has snarled those in the most-productive age group, that is those between 19 and 39 years old is a danger sign because these people are supposed to be our youths, the future leaders of tomorrow.
"Twenty years ago in 1988, the drug menace was Malaysia’s No. 1 enemy. Today, our No. 1 enemy is still the same.
“Every year, Malaysian drug addicts spent at least RM1bil on drugs. Those who have no money left will go into crime to get the money to feed their habits,” he stressed.
From January to July this year, some 10,131 new drug addicts were detected, but the foundation believes that the real figure is four times more, said Lee.
The state worst hit by the drug menace is Penang, followed by Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Kelantan, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Malacca, Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan with the least drug abuse cases.
Asked how his foundation intends to tackle the problem that this new trend of drug addiction presents, Lee said the foundation had outlined four sectors to be targeted for fresh rounds of anti-drug education - the schools, the offices and work-places, the home and the residential estates and community places.
Lee noted that not enough anti-dadah awareness campaigns and help programmes have been implemented in the offices and workplaces to help deal with the drug issues.