A new study from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BCCfE), Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG) and Thailand’s Mitsampan Community Research Project, finds the Thai government’s longstanding war-on-drugs, involving the mass incarceration of people who use drugs, has failed to suppress the availability and use of illegal drugs in the country.

The study, soon to be published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, assessed changes in the availability of five substances commonly used among people who inject drugs (IDUs) in Bangkok between 2009 and 2011. The study also investigated drug-using behaviour, and various factors influencing drug availability.

The study findings showed that the availability of heroin, methamphetamine, crystal methamphetamine, midazolam and illicit methadone increased significantly between 2009 and 2011. The largest increase in availability was found with crystal methamphetamine. There was an almost sixfold increase in proportion of IDUs reporting that crystal methamphetamine was available in less than 10 minutes: from 6 per cent in 2009 to 36 per cent in 2011. During the same two year period, the retail price of all drugs analyzed remained the same.

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.