Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD)



Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD)

Lift interviewing with Mr. Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
Lift interviewing with Mr. Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs. Hong Menea

Meas Vyrith, secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD)

According to a report by the Australian National Council on Drugs, injecting methamphetamines among young addicts is on the rise in Cambodia, as users have begun to switch from smoking to injecting.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has also expressed concern, as more than half the population is under the age of 25. The government has estimated that up to 75,000 Cambodians, mostly young people, use illegal drugs.

Who are drug users and why do they want to get involved in illegal drugs?
We normally say only rich young people use drugs, but any youth can use drugs. Some think that drugs can help solve problems. Some think when they use drugs, they are charismatic, while others think drugs can reduce stress and help them study harder.

If compared to the previous year, is the number of drug users increasing or decreasing?
We are doing a survey on the number of drug users in Cambodia. Recently, we have been cooperating with the Global Fund for support to hire professional experts, at the same time we also work with the Ministry of Health and anti-drug police. We lead the action to collect and get exact data on drug users. We already have the data and are waiting for the right day to spread the information. It is in between 12,000 and 28,000.

In the previous survey, the number of drug users was around 7,000. Some people said this figure should be multiplied by five or 10. In order to respond to the challenges we face, we have to take action to find the real figure of drug use so that everyone can use the figure.

Where do all the drugs come from?
Cambodia is not a place where drugs are produced. In contrast, this country is the victim of drug trafficking. The main countries that drugs here are produced in are Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. The second set of countries includes Myanmar, Thailand and Laos​. The drugs are being trafficked through Cambodia to other destinations.

If compared to the neighbouring countries, how big is drug trafficking in Cambodia?
Thailand ranks first and Laos and Vietnam rank second. The amount of drug trafficking and drug use is less than that in those countries. In 2012, we made arrests over drugs which were worth about $1 million, but this year the number is down because we use good strategies to control the situation.

What kinds of drugs are being used among youth in Cambodia?
Young people are the target of drug sellers because they are easily fooled. Amphetamines, in pill and crystal form called methamphetamine, are being used by the young people.

How bad is it if people use these illegal drugs?
Drug use can affect your health. Even though some drugs cannot cause death, more or less they will give users some bad effects. Drug users will find it difficult to get away from drug use. It was found that drug users can be controlled by drugs and they commit crimes at least nine times a month. Using drugs by smoking or injecting is risky. It can cause death because of heart attacks when using non-pure drugs with poisonous chemical products added if they are injected. Also, drug users can also face some diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

What is your strategy to tackle the problem?
We have five strategies. First is to reduce the need of drugs. We will take action that make people understand and say no to drugs. Second is to reduce the supply of drugs. The police will take action against the production and trafficking of illegal drugs. Third is to reduce the danger caused by drugs. We will raise awareness of the protection of any disease and provide them medical care. Fourth is to strengthen the ability of the police. They have to improve their skills so they can be flexible to solve problem. ​Fifth is to have good international cooperation because no country in the world can solve the drug problem alone.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year