Heroin

   A narcotic derived and refined from the latex of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). Its various grades, usually injected into the bloodstream with a needle, are much stronger and more addictive than opium, which is usually smoked. Not only are large amounts of heroin refined in laboratories inside Burma and exported to foreign countries, but heroin addiction has also become a serious domestic problem. Although some heroin abuse was recorded in Burma's larger cities during the Ne Win era (1962-1988), it expanded rapidly after the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) seized power in 1988 because of greater availability, the result in large measure of cease-fires negotiated between the SLORC and drug-dealing armed groups, especially the United Wa State Army. While rumors that Military Intelligence encouraged heroin use among college students in order to demoralize them are unsubstantiated, addiction rates have been high among unemployed youth and students left idle by the closure of universities during the 1990s. Addiction is also widespread among miners, especially at the Hpakant mine in Kachin State, where jadeite is extracted. The United Nations Drug Control Program estimates that there are a half million opium, heroin, and synthetic drug addicts in Burma. Because the needles used to inject heroin are reused, often many times, under very unsanitary conditions, heroin addiction has been the major factor in the rapid spread of AIDS.
   See also Amphetamines.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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