Thailand’s Meth Epidemic: What You Need to Know

With meth seizures once again making headlines in Thailand, Meth continues to destroy countless lives in the kingdom. Read on to get the facts on this dangerous drug and who offers drug treatment for methamphetamine addiction.

Thailand's Meth Epidemic: What You Need to Know


  • Up to speed on Thailand’s meth epidemic? These facts will help you be in the know. #meth #addiction #recovery #Thailand
  • The impacts of Thailand’s meth epidemic are crystal clear. Learn more about meth addiction in the kingdom. #MethAddiction #Yaba #Thailand #Ice #rehab #recovery

High-profile seizures of millions of dollars’ worth of methamphetamines in Thailand this year have brought international attention back to the meth epidemic that has swept through the country. Startling images of hundreds of kilos of highly potent crystal meth and millions of cheap yaba pills are a grim reminder of the easy availability of the drug.

Through years of successfully treating methamphetamine dependency at The Cabin Bangkok, we’ve seen the serious impacts meth has on users. While methamphetamine use is widespread throughout Thailand, many people aren’t aware of some basic but important facts about meth.

Meth and Yaba—What’s the Difference?

Though the term ‘yaba’ is often used synonymously with methamphetamine, yaba is actually one of several types of meth. Yaba, a Thai term which roughly translates to ‘crazy drug’, refers to red or pink colloured tablets which contain a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine. The tablets are commonly crushed and smoked, but can also be ingested or snorted. Yaba is a cheaper form of methamphetamine, but still highly addictive.

Ice, or crystal meth, is a purer form of methamphetamine. It looks like small crystals or powder, which can range from white to a pinkish or brownish hue. It’s typically injected or smoked, but like yaba, it can also be ingested or snorted. Ice is a newer form of methamphetamine in Thailand, but has rapidly risen in popularity over the last 10 years.

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Where Does Thailand’s Crystal Meth Come From?

The Golden Triangle, the area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar share borders, has long been associated with large-scale opium production. More recently, this area has also supplied Southeast Asia with massive amounts of methamphetamines.

Though Thailand has attempted to crack down on the supply from this region by banning the cross-border shipments of 20 different chemicals related to meth production, cartels have responded by creating new methamphetamine formulas. “There is a relentless supply pumping out of the Golden Triangle…to flood Southeast Asian markets and also transit Southeast Asia to high value markets like Australia, New Zealand and potentially further,” Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC’s chief in Southeast Asia, told the South China Morning Post.

Who’s Using Meth in Thailand?

In the beginning of the epidemic, yaba was mainly used by male drivers or labourers struggling to stay awake through long shifts. However, the availability of yaba, and the introduction of the more potent ‘ice’, has seen methamphetamine use expand across multiple demographics.

In both cities and rural areas of Thailand, youth, men and women have reported using meth for a recreational high or for perceived performance enhancement. Its popularity is also evident in Thailand’s arrest statistics as more than 90% of all drug arrests involve meth.

What are Meth’s Long-Term Effects?

Methamphetamine works by forcing the brain to release two key chemicals: norepinephrine, which prompts a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, and dopamine, which enhances feelings of pleasure. Regular use of meth depletes these chemicals and physically exhausts the body resulting in effects such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Dental problems
  • Breathlessness
  • Anxiety, paranoia and violence
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Weakened immune system
  • Muscle stiffness

Long-term users are at increased risk for major health issues such as strokes, heart and kidney disease, and episodes of psychosis. Dependency can also cause significant financial and personal impacts, creating serious problems in the lives of users.

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Where Can I Get Meth Addiction Treatment in Thailand?

Because methamphetamine use is so widespread, it is normal for users to downplay the seriousness of the drug. However, the overall impacts of meth on people’s health and lives can be devastating. For people who are ready to confront their methamphetamine dependency and transition to a healthy lifestyle, The Cabin Bangkok can help.

Our specialised outpatient programme offers an innovative treatment plan that can help you beat your methamphetamine dependency while maintaining work and family commitments. With a 96% completion rate, our evidence-based approach focuses on tackling addiction in a comprehensive manner. An experienced team of specialists will work with you to identify triggers and root causes of your addiction, coaching you through the recovery process.

For those who would prefer residential rehab for methamphetamine addiction, The Cabin Chiang Mai offers world-class inpatient meth addiction treatment, far away from potential triggers, where you can focus solely on your recovery.

Methamphetamine dependency is a serious problem, but your path to recovery can begin today. Call The Cabin Bangkok today to learn more about how we can help you get a fresh start.

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