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Heroin in China|
Heroin and opium use have become problems in China as more and more heroin and opium produced in the Golden Triangle in Myanmar and Laos, flow through southern China and make their way to Chinese users. Ergu is a small town in Sichuan on one of the main heroin smuggling routes. Drugs use and addiction have become serious problems there. One former addict told the Los Angeles Times. "At one point, you could look out into the field and you wouldn’t find a single person working. Everybody is taking drugs: men, women, even 11- and 12-year-old kids."
The use if heroin is increasing at an alarming rate throughout China. The drug is cheap and available in the cities, and is widely used in the migrant communities. Some addicts are able to keep their habit going and pay rent with low-paying jobs.
Snorting, injecting and smoking heroin is becoming increasingly more popular in the nightclubs and discos in Beijing and Shanghai. One 29-year-old addict told the Washington Post he started smoking heroin when he was 15. "My family is well-educated. My parents gave me everything I wanted. At that time, drugs had started to appear in society. And we didn’t know how addictive they were. We were just curious. We inhaled heroin and stayed at bars late at night." He said many of his clubbing buddies have switched to ecstasy.
Many addicts begin as unemployed migrant workers and turn to dealing and smuggling drugs because they can't find any other form of employment and the money is good. In many cases they can earn as much in one day as a courier or dealer as they can working for a whole year as a farmer. Later, they become hooked themselves when they are encouraged to use the drugs by their suppliers who often give them free samples.
Pakistan, Thailand, Iran and China account for most of the world's heroin consumption. China and India are believed to have the fastest growing market. In these places prices are low and total sales is probably less than USD10 billion.
Heroin Addicts in China
There are an estimated 3 to 7 million addicts in China. The number of officially registered addicts increased from 148,000 in 1 9 9 1 to 520,000 in 1995 to 681,000 in 1999 to 900,000 in 2001. According to one survey, three quarters of the addicts are male; 75 percent are under 25 and many are unemployed.
Half of China's registered drug addicts are in the Yunnan province, near the border of Burma, Laos and Vietnam, where drugs are smuggled and heroin and opium are cheap and plentiful. Until the mid-1 9 9 0s, drug deals where performed openly in Kunming where China White sells for USD12 a gram. In Ruili on the Burmese border it sells for only USD5 a gram.
Addiction rates are also high in areas near the Afghanistan border in X i n j i a n g and among migrant workers in the coastal cities, where many of the crimes are committed by addicted migrants. Drug addiction has become a problem for some ethnic groups in Yunnan such as the Bai.
There are lots of sad and terrible stories out there related to heroin use. The Los Angeles Times described a young girl who was crushed to death by a train after she did so much heroin she passed out on some railroad tracks. The newspaper also described children whose mothers were addicts and whose fathers died of overdoses and extended families that were ruined by members who were addicts and ran up huge debts.