Field notes

In Myanmar, when home is one of world's biggest opium-producing areas

As Myanmar rethinks its anti-drug policies, cheap opium is flooding the country's north - and addicts struggle to kick the habit

A drug user being treated at the Myanmar Anti-Narcotics Association-run centre in Taunggyi last December. It also functions as a gathering place where drug addicts can chat, watch television or play the guitar. A drug user receiving medicine as part
A drug user receiving medicine as part of his treatment at a local centre in Taunggyi that is run by the Myanmar Anti-Narcotics Association. Taunggyi is the capital of Myanmar's Shan state, in the north-eastern part of the country that ranks as the second-largest opium-producing territory in the world, after Afghanistan. PHOTOS: SAI HTIN LINN HTET
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TAUNGGYI (Myanmar) • Looking tired and nervous, Lin steps into a low-profile clinic in an unnamed street on the outskirts of his hometown, Taunggyi. It's the day after Christmas - the latter being a public holiday in Myanmar - but instead of staying home with his wife and two kids, the young man lingers for a while at the clinic, where he often comes to get basic treatment and chat with other patients after taking one of his daily doses of opium.

Twenty-five-year-old Lin (not his real name) has a three-times-a-day opium habit that wrecks his daily life. "I feel lonely every time I take opium, as I can't stay with my wife and children while I do it," he says.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline In Myanmar, when home is one of world's biggest opium-producing areas. Subscribe