The idea for this book arose due to the fact that there was no comprehensive reference material for what was going on across East and Southeast Asia in regard to drug policy efforts. The book includes a historical account of drug use in the region, the effects of criminalisation, the role of police in supporting health efforts, the death penalty in relation to drugs, the links between socioeconomic development and drug use and cultivation, human rights of persons who use drugs, the rise of amphetamine-type substances and current treatment methods, and case studies of Taiwan, Thailand, China and Vietnam.

The book begins with Reid and Crofts describing opium use in pre-1900 China, India and Burma, and moves ahead with more contemporary developments, including the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and draconian measures being adopted across Asia. Lee, Jacka and Crofts go on to describe harm reduction and triggers for harm reduction being adopted in the region. Csete and Rahman then describe human rights violations in the region and the responses of Asian governments towards increasing human rights-based drug policy across the world.

These introductory chapters provide useful background and context for chapters which deal with specific issues in the book. Des Jarlais et al. address HCV epidemiology in Southeast Asia, and interesting revelations of HIV among ethnic minority groups in China. Mannava et al. address the links, causes and effects between socioeconomic development and effective drug control. They state: ‘Rural underdevelopment, conflict, and economic crises can drive illicit drug production, whilst poverty, unemployment, marginalization, and changing social norms create vulnerability to drug consumption.’

Rahman writes about the death penalty for drugs, particularly in relation to China, Malaysia and Indonesia, and notes that many abolitionist countries retain strong public opinion in favour of the death penalty, and hence abolition is mainly dependent on political will. She also details recent cases occurring in the abovementioned countries. Baldwin and Thomson highlight developments in regard to compulsory treatment in the region, and provide comprehensive and damning arguments as to the inefficacy of compulsory treatment programs.

McKetin and Li arguably deal with the most difficult issue rising in East and Southeast Asia: amphetamine-type substances and other related stimulants. As is widely known, ATS is undergoing a major boom in the region, and in tandem with prohibition harms associated continue to propagate. The authors detail history of ATS in the region, comorbidities associated with use, efficacy of treatments available currently, and contemporary trends.

The book is available for purchase here.

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