Heroin returns to popular taste in the north

More than a decade after demand on it was eclipsed by the cheaper yaba (methamphetamine), heroin is gradually regaining acceptance among all three age groups in Namtu, where the Bawdwin silver mine is located, according to sources there.

High school students and state personnel are witnessed among the users.
Accordingly, retail prices have also gone up. “Before, I needed only K 5,000 ($ 5.9) per day to sate myself,” said a local young man. “But now I have to spend K 10,000 ($ 11.8) each day.”

Each penicillin-bottle of heroin is sold for K 20,000 ($ 23.5). For a shot, it is sold in a 1-inch long plastic straw for K 4,000 ($ 4.7). “It can either be smoked in a cup made from a cigarette foil, or injected intravenously,” an ex-user explained. “Some even use their own blood to melt the drug and then inject it. There are also others who like to slit their temples with a shaving blade, compress the cut with heroin and then put a plaster on it.”

One of Namtu’s neighbors, Mongpaw, has been campaigning against drug retailers with the blessing of local authorities. Another neighbor, Mongwi, has also formed a youth campaign team against drug use and trade. However, it has yet to receive the endorsement of authorities there.

The government has retargeted the deadline for drug elimination from 2014 to 2019. Few details of the revised plan however has been made public.


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