Myanmar Losing Its War on Addiction | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Myanmar Losing Its War on Addiction

With the government in their pocket, drug dealers and users do their business in the open without fear of reprisal.



By Bryan Le


| Share

If you thought the United States was enduring a heroin epidemic, perhaps look to Myanmar for some perspective.

In Myanmar, opium and heroin addiction is so rampant it's used and trafficked in broad daylight. Police and military come not to arrest and confiscate, but to buy and use right there among the rest of the addicts. In the opium-growing village of Nampakta, officials estimate that roughly half of the population is addicted to dope.

"It's all in the open now. Everyone used to hide in their houses. They'd be secretive," said Daw Li, a mother of two sons, both of whom died of heroin overdoses. "Now the dealers deal, the junkies shoot up. They couldn't care less if someone is watching. Why isn't anyone trying to stop this?"

The Myanmar government won't step in for fear of shattering their new alliances with various ethnic rebel insurgent groups that use the drug trade as their main source of income. But even in villages under government control like Nampakta, government forces have chosen not to exercise control. 

"When I first assumed this post, I said to my bosses, 'We need to take action to stop drugs,'" a senior official anonymously told the Associated Press. "I was told, quite flatly, 'Mind your own business.'"

Residents who have urged government forces to crack down to no avail say that drug dealers either pay off officials or turn them into addicts. With death tolls from overdoses being tallied every week, the situation in Myanmar has grown progressively dire with no hope in sight.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv