Drug Abuse Malaysia

Drug Abuse Malaysia

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Substance and Drug Abuse Malaysia

Substance Abuse in Malaysia

Drug and substance abuse is not a new issue across the world. Many countries across the planet have large sums of the population that regularly interact with illicit drugs. Most countries have put some sort of legislation or effort in place to help alleviate some of these issues, but no location has pinpointed a perfectly effective solution.

Malaysia, like many countries across the world, has regularly dealt with substance and drug abuse as a serious health problem in the country1https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0740547288900487. And like many and most countries across the world, those experiencing and abusing drugs seem to get younger and younger every decade despite programs put in place to help drugs seem less attractive to that population.

In Malaysia’s prisons alone, almost half of that population has been placed in jail for drug abuse Malaysia charges. The prison population runs around 30,000, so around 15,000 of those have been put in jail for drug-related crimes. There are over 250,000 registered drug users in the country of Malaysia2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4421936/.

This increase and consistent record of substance and drug abuse in Malaysia has partially been blamed because of Malaysia’s development into a more modern society3https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/A-review-of-substance-abuse-research-in-malaysia.-Norliza-Norni/5c8931e5c8aeaad9dcaf913307808ed07f744490. Much of the research that was completed and programs that were created to help alleviate these issues were created decades ago and do not appeal to the current population.

Common Drugs Abused in Malaysia

The most popular drug of choice in Malaysia? Opiates4https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245593. Opioids are regularly used in hospitals in Malaysia to help alleviate pain related to procedures and serious health conditions. The molecules from this medication travel through your bloodstream and attach themselves to opioid receptors — effectively masking pain and increasing your ability for pleasure.

This is what makes them attractive, but the effects they have on their wide range of users is serious. When correctly using opioids for pain as prescribed by a doctor, they can alleviate pain and make you feel sleepy— helping you work your way through the suffering. But in large, incorrect, and illegal doses, they can do the same to an extreme degree. They slow your heart and breathing rate– in some cases so much that the drug becomes fatal. They are extremely addictive and difficult to stop using once you begin and experience the pleasure that comes along with regular use.

Cannabis is the next most popular drug in Malaysia and is currently still illegal within the country. Any amount over 200 grams or seven ounces is considered a drug trafficking offense. Following cannabis are amphetamine-based stimulants5https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1010539514542425. The most common being  Adderall, a medication used to treat ADHD. Amphetamine stimulants are often prescribed by doctors for ADHD and are relatively safe for that use when used and administered correctly. However, stimulants are often sold and purchased illegally because of the “high” and “focus” they can provide a user. They are incredibly addictive as well and their users often become extremely dependent, as many drug abuse Malaysia studies have shown.

Teenage Drug Abuse Malaysia

Adderall is a drug commonly used around the world by students. Illegally and legally. Some students have attention deficit disorder and need help focusing in a classroom. Some students obtain the drug illegally because of the “focus” and “drive” it provides them. Often, Adderall can help a student pull an all-nighter to study and focus, which is often the appeal. However, the unregulated use of the drug combined with the lack of sleep results in serious cognitive and physical deficits.

Student Drug Abuse Malaysia

College students in Malaysia use drugs to help cope with school and the stress that may come along with it, but they are not the only population regularly using the drugs and school is not the only scenario driving the citizens of Malaysia to drug abuse. In other countries, common reasons for substance abuse involve familial scenarios. Relationships with parents, abuse in the home, and class are often typical reasons that are listed for causing high drug use in many countries.

That is the case in Malaysia as well, but the understanding of drug use in this country is that it is often caused by peer and societal pressure. College students may feel pressured by peers to party in college or may feel pressure to perform academically. Young teens may feel pressure to participate in social gatherings where drugs are often the centerpiece. Adults may abuse drugs for any combination of those reasons. Drug abuse in Malaysia often comes from a deep desire to be accepted within the society or group you want to be a part of. If drugs are a common occurrence in the group or class you are associated with, there is pressure to also participate to fit in with who you want to.

Abuse of Drugs in Malaysia

Drug abuse in Malaysia comes with all different ages, locations, and economic statuses. The average age to start using drugs or experience a substance for the first time in Malaysia? 13-15 years old. Almost 35% of third-year college students meet the criteria for a drug or substance abuse disorder. Those with high-stress jobs are often involved — including healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses in Malaysia are not exempt from the pressure to perform well and will use drugs to help them cope.

Drug Abuse Malaysia Treatment

In Malaysia, those identified and registered as drug users are sent to two-year rehabilitation and treatment programs6https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274963414_Drug_Abuse_Relapse_and_Prevention_Education_in_Malaysia_Perspective_of_University_Students_Through_a_Mixed_Methods_Approach. This is Mandated by the law and costs the government a significant amount of money each year. But — because of the high need and high use of substances, it was created and has been maintained as a way to help the citizens of the country find their way out of issues they may have been pressured into by peers or societal expectations.

There are currently educational programs in schools to help alleviate some of the attractiveness or drug use, and it has been proven relatively successful. However, older teens and young adults suggested that the government implement these education programs when students are a little bit older. They claim that students are presented with these educational programs at 9 or 10 which is a few years before the pressure starts. They think that introducing these educational programs during or right before expected societal pressure can be more effective.

The Malaysian government is well aware of the issues running rampant throughout their country and has implemented both educational and rehabilitative programs to help citizens cope with the results of drug abuse or pressure to begin using drugs. Citizens believe the addition of family support training and education will help prevent further use and relapses among teens and college students.

There are a number of private drug abuse treatment centers in Malaysia that are well established. These drug abuse Malaysia treatment centers treat and care for a range of individuals and provide support to their families.Most drug abuse Malaysia treatment centers are located in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Rehabs in Malaysia


References & Citations: Drug Abuse Malaysia

  1. Hudson JI, Hiripi E, Pope HG, Jr, Kessler RC. The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. National Anti-Drug Agency (NADA) (Malaysia). Biol Psychiatry (2007) 61(3):348–58.10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.03.040 []
  2. Cirakoglu OC, Isin G. Perception of drug addiction among Turkish university students: causes, cures and attitudes. Addict Behav (2005) 30:1–8.10.1016/j.addbeh.2004.04.003 []
  3. McCabe SE, Cranford JA, Boyd CJ, Teter CJ. Motives, diversion and routes of administration associated with nonmedical use of prescription opioids and drug absue in Malaysia. Addict Behav (2007) 32(3):562–75.10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.05.022 []
  4. De Costa A, Diwan V. ‘Where is the public health sector?’ Public and private sector healthcare provision in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Health Policy (2007) 84(2–3):269–76.10.1016/j.healthpol.2007.04.004 []
  5. Ersche KD, Jones PS, Williams GB, Smith DG, Bullmore ET, Robbins TW. Distinctive personality traits and neural correlates associated with stimulant drug use versus familial risk of stimulant dependence. Biol Psychiatry (2013) 74(2):137–44.10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.11.016 []
  6. Cirakoglu OC, Isin G. Perception of drug addiction among university students: causes, cures and attitudes. Addict Behav (2005) 30:1–8.10.1016/j.addbeh.2004.04.003 []
  7. Larimer M, Kilmer J, Lee C. College student drug prevention: a review of individually-oriented prevention strategies. J Drug Issues (2005) 35:431–5610.1177/002204260503500210 []
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