The number of drug users appears to be increasing, particularly among youth in the border community.
Five people die every month of drug-related causes, including overdoses, in the China-Burma border town of Muse in northern Shan State, according to social outreach workers.
This is not counting the seven more than die from illnesses due to drug use, said U Thaung Tun, who works for the Garuna Social Assistance Association in Muse.
The number of drug users appears to be increasing in the community particularly among youth, according to U Thaung. He urged respective government agencies to work to address the issue of drugs.
One local, who lives in Pau Sang Ward in Muse, said that the syringes and needles cast away in public places by drug users have become a health hazard, particularly around Shwe Tamin monastery.
“Needles, syringes and lead-coated papers [used for smoking narcotics] are thrown indiscriminately around the street and in the public area. Drug users sometimes sleep there. Respective authorities do not come to clear them out,” the local told SHAN.
Other locals in Muse say authorities could do more to fight drugs in the border town, which is linked with an increased number of burglaries and robberies.
“Students are also using drugs. I think it is too dangerous for the children’s future if the situation keeps going on like this,” Sai Kham, who lives in Muse, said.
Even though many locals say they know who transports and deals drugs, they are afraid to report them to the authorities, because of a fear of reprisals.
Arrests are commonly carried out against drug users and low-level drug dealers, rather than the high-profile traffickers. Locals say that this current strategy is not effective in the fight against drugs in Muse.