PETALING JAYA - Despite its expensive price tag, methamphetamine is fast becoming the drug of choice for drug users in the country.
Up to three years ago, methamphetamine, better known as syabu, was regarded as a high-end drug.
Only those in the middle-class or the higher income group could afford it. However, its usage has spread to drug users of all income groups as even teenagers and college students are now buying the drug.
Sources reveal that the street price for syabu is still about RM100,000 per kilogram. Syabu, apparently, is sold for between RM30 and RM50 per pill. Users usually take more than three a day based on their profession or income.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines and Thailand have listed methamphetamine as the leading drug of concern.
Malaysia is among four countries that still lists heroin as the number one problem. Malaysia has the third highest number of arrests for methamphetamine in South-East Asia, at 74,460 cases last year.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had said traditional heroin users were switching to methamphetamine.
"While heroin is a form of anti-depressant, syabu is commonly used as a stimulant," he said, adding that users were usually aged between 24 and 40.
"The shift to syabu could be due to supply of heroin drying up as we have previously clamped down on suppliers," he said.
Commenting on the high number of arrests for methamphetamine, Khalid refuted speculation that Malaysia could be one of the top production centres for the drug.
He said the police recorded a number of arrests of suppliers and users, but only found small-scale drug labs during the busts.
"The main producer of such drugs are still Nigeria and China," he said.
In Sept 2012, The Star reported that getting high on party drugs was becoming increasingly dangerous as the components in the cocktail of stimulants had become deadlier, compared with party pills of a decade ago.
A check with the Chemistry Department showed that since 2000, Ecstasy pills that traditionally used to contain up to 30 per cent to 40 per cent of its active ingredient - 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine - are now being induced with other drugs such as ketamine (a type of anaesthetic usually used in animals) and methamphetamine.