Yaba use, inflow soaring unabated
The use and inflow of contraband drug Yaba continues to mount unabated despite various anti-narcotics measures of government agencies and different initiatives of non-government organisations, officials concerned have said.
Worries have mounted over the rising addiction of the amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) drug, commonly known as Yaba, among youths, official data shows.
There are no specific statistics on the market size of this particular drug. None has so far conducted a nationwide survey to know the extent of financial involvement and impact of the drug use on the society.
But the number of confiscations of the drug by the law-enforcement agencies over the last ten years suggests that the abuse of Yaba has grown very fast, and it is dominating the country's illicit drug market because of its easy availability.
Teens and youngsters of affluent and middle-class families are its main consumers. The drug makes its users excited and gives them an instant euphoric feeling, but it leaves a deadly effect on the users in the long term.
Officials and anti-drug activists have said the quantity of the stimulating tablet that the law-enforcement agencies seize every year is just a small portion of the tablets entering into the country.
According to the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), the law-enforcement agencies seized 1.3 million Yaba tablets in 2011. The number gradually increased to 1.9 million in 2012, 2.8 million in 2013, 6.7 million in 2014, 20 million in 2015, 29.5 million in 2016, and 40 million in 2017.
In 2018, the number rose to over 53 million, but it declined sharply to 30 million in 2019 - when the law-enforcement agencies launched special drives against illicit drugs across the country.
After the crackdown was over, the number rose to 36 million in 2020, and to over 53 million in 2021.
The confiscations do indicate that the use of Yaba and the trade associated with it have recorded a phenomenal rise over the years much to the concerns of guardians and the law-enforcers.
Seeking anonymity, a senior DNC official has said the inflow of the stimulating drug continues to grow unabated through the Myanmar border despite their intensified watch.
The home minister recently raised his concern and asked the law-enforcing agencies to further enhance monitoring.
"Yaba is the dominating illicit drug here. The way it is entering into the country is a matter of serious concern."
The DNC has instructed all the agencies, including their own officials, to remain alert in the border areas, he has added.
When contacted, Dr Shoyebur Reza Chowdhury, chief consultant of the Central Drug Addiction Treatment Centre, has said around 70 per cent of their patients is Yaba-addicts.
"It indicates how fast the drug is spreading across the society. We need to make every family aware of the drug. The guardians should regularly inquire about their children, and with whom they meet," he has added.
Expressing concern over the growing use of Yaba, Dr Arup Ratan Choudhury, founder president of the Association for Prevention of Drug Abuse (MANAS), has said while the demographic dividend puts Bangladesh in an advantageous position, contraband drugs are sapping the energy of youth population.
Youths constitute almost two-thirds of the country's total population of 165 million.
"But contraband drugs are sapping the energy of these working age people, from whom the country expects more. So, it is not only destroying an individual, but the country as a whole," he has added.
According to the advocacy group, the addicts spend at least Tk 70 billion a year on drugs and the amount is increasing day by day.