Drugs in Sammakorn

I am an American living in Sammakorn, and I have known young people from high class families in Bangkapi who take drugs. I have never taken drugs, one reason being the simple danger of brain damage. However, I have been offered drugs. This web article relates to you my experiences concerning those who take drugs and those who offer drugs, as well as my education on the issue.

People, listen: drugs like amphetamines ("ya ba") and ecstasy ("ya E") cause brain damage. What do you believe -- scientific evidence or wishful thinking? The end of this article discusses scientific proof.

The #1 problem facing communities in free countries is drug use among young people.

The main users of drugs (per capita) come in two categories: the highest and the lowest economic classes. Drug use is lowest in the middle class, according to my experiences.

In Thailand, it has become a national security issue, due to Burma being a major international supply center, which has resulted in large supplies of drugs at low prices in Thailand. This has resulted in damage to the brains of our next generation, as well as enrichment of mafia people who rise in political power, as well as foreign mafia moving in to "colonize" Thailand in effect. These kinds of people are ruthless and evil.

Possibly, there may be corruption within some Thai governmental circles due to the great amounts of money for trafficking this drug. Certainly, we know there are small-scale dealers in Bangkapi who support their lifestyle selling drugs, and who care about nothing besides themself.

There may be little we can do nationally, but we can do something about Sammakorn.

We are very fortunate that our local police sometimes choose to put up a roadblock checkpoint late at night in front of Sammakorn.

However, the most effective prevention is by parents and friends. We can't do much about "supply" of drugs, but we can do something about "demand".

"Prevention" starts with education about the effects of drugs -- permanent brain damage. However, we must also deal with the psychological reasons young people take drugs, because emotion often overrides logic.

One reason is peer pressure. Young people often don't say "no" to their friends. Why?

  1. Sometimes they believe their friends when they say the drug is harmless. That's "wishful thinking", not scientific fact. Who should you believe -- a thrill-seeking friend who isn't serious about the future, or scientists?

  2. Sometimes they find it too difficult to say no to friends. It's very important that children be taught to be able to stand up for themselves, and not be "too meek and obedient". They must be able to say "no" to those they love and be strong within themself.

  3. Sometimes they don't have alternative friends, and they don't want to lose their exciting, drug-experimenting friends by rejecting them. Parents, brothers and sisters must keep aware of which friends every family member has. Good friends should be encouraged, bad friends discouraged. Occasionally, special action must be taken.

  4. Everyone needs love. Sometimes, people get involved in questionable relationships, for psychological reasons. Children must have a family which gives "unconditional love" and maintains a good family environment where children can "be themselves". (If you don't know what "unconditional love" is, then you should look it up on the Internet in articles in psychology. Many well-meaning parents make this mistake -- making love "conditional". This is a main reason that some people fall prey to exploitation by others. Remember, drug dealers often just sell to their friends.)

  5. Parents sometimes take legitimate drugs in view of their children for ailments. You are a role model, and children imitate those in their environment. Even if you just take aspirin, do so in private. Don't let your children see that if you want to feel better then just take some pills.

It's important to give children a fair amount of self-determination and independence, and to not apply too much pressure, so that they don't seek an "escape". Also, parents must make time for their children.

One reason children take amphetamines during exam time is to score better on the exams. This is largely to please the parents, who want to be proud of their children's "superiority" and class. Let me tell you something: There's more to life and happiness than impressing other people. What kind of people do you want to impress? Why? This is an analysis of "values".

Of course, the students take the drugs secretly.

Another reason children take drugs is in response to stress or bad times. It's an escape. This is a major reason adults take ecstasy, too.

Pressure by parents to score high on competitive exams, and to pursue fields of studies according to the parents' interests, are often what fuel drug use. Children are well behaved at home, but secretly go wild in private. Trying to control them more causes the behavior to worsen.

There are some broader issues here. As an American, I see these things from an outsider's perspective.

There are many young Thais pursuing a university degree in a field chosen by their parents, not according to their own natural interests and talents. Likewise, there are people in the workforce who don't enjoy their field of work. They are unhappy, but they conform. Sometimes, they resort to mood-elevating drugs to deal with their unhappiness. This usually starts when they see friends who have become happy temporarily by drugs. So they, too, find happiness in drugs. Temporarily.

The two most common drugs are amphetamines ("ya ba") and ecstasy ("ya E"). They aren't the only two drugs taken, but they are the two most common. Some of the other drugs, manufactured in hidden facilities with poor quality control and careless agents, have terribly poisonous chemicals in them and are similar but far worse than pure amphetamines or ecstasy. Concentrations of all chemicals can vary greatly from pill to pill, from underdose to overdose.

Brain Damage!
You understand?

The government and newspapers have given excellent coverage to the negative effects of amphetamines ("ya ba", so I will assume you are convinced that amphetamines cause brain damage.

You may be surprised to find how many young Thais believe that ecstasy ("ya E") is harmless, and who believe their drug-pushing and drug-taking friends' "wishful thinking" beliefs that it's not harmful.

The scientific facts are clear, and I document the effects of ecstasy later in this article.

First, I'd like to point out that people who have brain damage usually don't think they have brain damage. Likewise, crazy people usually don't think they are crazy. (In fact, they often think everyone else is crazy.) It is important to understand this. Friends will say "I've taken ecstasy many times, but I'm OK". Well, studies show this is not true. Most drug takers perform worse at tasks over time. Those who perform the same are usually trying and working harder than before. If they continue taking drugs, their life always goes on the skids.

I will try to explain in general terms how ecstasy works without getting too technical. Then I will give links to some technical articles and scientific results.

The word "ecstasy" means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary:

  1. Intense joy or delight.
  2. A state of emotion so intense that one is carried beyond rational thought and self-control.

A main chemical in the brain, called "serotonin", plays a role in both happiness and forming memory. It exists around the border between brain cells, and plays a role in linking brain cells.

Ecstasy works by acting upon the machinery of the brain in a way that results in excessive amounts of serotonin being released into the brain, thereby causing artificial happiness and stimulation of the senses. Users excessively love the lights of discotheques, for example.

Unfortunately, this process causes damage to the machinery of the brain. Permanent damage.

After the ecstasy wears off, the person is a little bit less happy and memories don't form quite as easily. Just a little bit.

The reduced happiness results in a stronger desire for ecstasy.

The more times a user takes ecstasy, the more brain damage occurs, and the more they will desire it again after its effects wear off.

As quoted from a leading medical research institution, Johns Hopkins Institute, in Baltimore:

The permanent brain damaging effects in monkeys has been known back to 1995 by dissection of the monkeys' brains 12 to 18 months after they took the ecstasy. The brain cells of monkeys were damaged. In some areas of the brain, the damaged cells recovered, but in other areas of the brain, the damaged cells did not recover at all, and in other sections the damaged cells recovered abnormally.

In humans, we can determine the effects by testing performance, e.g., memory. In studies in which large groups of users and non-users of similar intelligence and background were given tests, ecstasy users have significantly impaired visual and verbal memory compared to those who never took the drug. Memory is something that can be measured. Other effects have also been noted but cannot be measured by numbers, e.g., depression, anxiety, and other mood elements.

The shortterm effects of ecstasy has been well known, as the performance problems are worst in the weeks after taking the drug. What we are finding out now is that the brain recovers some, but does not fully recover, and the longterm effects -- years later -- are still significant. At present, we know of the effects only a few years after taking the drug.

It's also notable that the people with brain damage usually don't think they have brain damage. However, comparing their results on standardized tests to those who never used the drug, the proof is clear in the data and objective scientific analysis.

The lesson here is this: Don't believe people who say ecstasy is harmless. What do they base their belief on? Their wishful thinking. What's right -- wishful thinking or scientific analysis?

Note: Do not report drug use to us. We are not policemen. Report it to the local police station and the schools. If it is your own children, then I suggest you consult with a drug rehabilitation center and one of their psychologists.

It is my opinion that the best solution to the drug problem is by educating people -- reducing "demand". Trying to cut back "supply" is costly, dangerous and sometimes not lasting.

Internationally, priority is placed on stopping the supply of drugs from the Middle East, because certain terrorist groups there are benefitting financially from supplying their enemy countries in the west with drugs. Less effort is put into cutting off supplies from places like Burma and Colombia because those people are just local crooks who pose no terrorist, political threat. If drugs were cut off from Burma and Columbia entirely, then the Middle East terrorist groups would benefit. Thus, Thais will need to solve their own local problems about drugs without much help from the outside world. This is the reality.

Khun Sudarat is following the best policy, e.g., naming another drug "ya ngo" (stupid drug).

What's a good word for "brain damage" in Thai?