Research conducted by Cambodia's Drugs Rehabilitation Organization (DRO) has
found that of 500 Phnom Penh drug users surveyed in the last year, 33 percent
were students from primary school to university.
Students are primarily
using yama, a methamphetamine, and sniffing glue the DRO reported, but stated
that heroin use is also increasing.
However the government's drugs
authority and a youth welfare organization both cast doubt on the
Teng Savong, secretary-general of the National Authority for
Combating Drugs, said the survey was not representative because DRO had only
surveyed areas of the city with high drug use.
David Harding, technical
assistant for the Phnom Penh-based NGO Mith Samlanh, also questioned the figure,
saying it was too high.
DRO vice-executive director Poeun Thy said most
drug-using students were poor or lived in slums.
He said 65 percent of
students surveyed were persuaded by their friends to take drugs.
very difficult for us to tell who uses drugs. Drug-takers never admit that they
use," Thy said. "It is a new battle for our country at the
Savong said police records showed Cambodia had about 7,000 drug
users including 4,000 in Phnom Penh, but the real number of drug users in
Cambodia was probably closer to 35,000.
Drug use increased by about 25
percent in 2004 and 2005, but the increase was considerably less than in
previous years, Savong said.
"It is a new issue for Cambodia, so it is
difficult for us to crack down on," Savong said.
more than 800,000 yama pills in 2004, but in 2005 the number dropped to nearly
"The trend of drug trafficking is decreasing though the
number of drug users is still increasing," Savong said.
He said the drugs
were trafficked from the golden triangle region of Thailand, Burma and Laos, and
that drug users are generally between 15 to 25 years old.
Yama use and
glue sniffing were common throughout Cambodia in 2003, Harding said, but heroin
use was growing fast, with many users injecting.
"It could be a problem
for the future of HIV/AIDS infection, security along with increasing crime,"
"The more people are affected with drugs, the more people
He said the reason for high drug use among youth in some areas
was because there was little else for them to do. If there was more space for
youth to play sport, or more opportunities for entertainment, young people would
be less inclined to turn to drugs.