Yale University

New challenges and opportunities in managing substance abuse in Malaysia.

TitleNew challenges and opportunities in managing substance abuse in Malaysia.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsMazlan, Mahmud, Richard S. Schottenfeld, and Marek C. Chawarski
JournalDrug and alcohol review
Date Published2006 Sep
KeywordsBuprenorphine, HIV Infections, Humans, Malaysia, Mental Health Services, Naltrexone, Narcotics, Prevalence, Registries, Risk Factors, Risk-Taking, Substance-Related Disorders
AbstractUntil recently, Malaysia has lagged behind in the treatment of drug addiction and related disorders, despite experiencing severe drug problems. By the end of 2004, 234,000 heroin users or heroin-dependent individuals had been registered in the official government registry, but other estimates exceed 500,000 for heroin abusers in the country. Amphetamine-type stimulant abuse is also increasing and of considerable public and government concern. Among the population of drug users, HIV and other infectious diseases rates are very high. In the Western Pacific regions, Malaysia has the second highest HIV prevalence (after Vietnam) among adult populations (0.62%) and the highest proportion of HIV cases resulting from injection drug use (76.3%). Drug use and related disorders exert a heavy burden on the country's health care and legal systems. Historically, drug abusers were rehabilitated involuntarily in correctional, rather than health-care, facilities. This primarily criminal treatment approach had limited effectiveness which led to widespread public dissatisfaction and the recent introduction of medical treatments for addiction. Naltrexone was introduced in 1999; buprenorphine was introduced in 2001 and methadone in 2003. Agonist maintenance programmes were embraced rapidly by the medical community in Malaysia. Currently, over 30,000 opiate-dependent patients are treated with agonist maintenance treatments by more than 500 medical practitioners in Malaysia. Despite these recent advances, treatments for amphetamine-type stimulant abuse or dependence are underdeveloped, and diversion of agonist medications is an emerging concern.
Alternate JournalDrug Alcohol Rev

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