The University of Indonesia’s health centre and the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) report an estimated 1.2 million drug users in the country.
Professor Nurul Ilmi Idris of the Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, told reporters on October 22 that the country now has more than 850,000 new people trying out illegal drugs this year. The number of total reported users rose to 1.1 million in 2011 and has increased over the past five years.
Idris commented that marijuana is now the most prevalent drug in the archipelago, while some people have continued to use heroin since the mid-1990s. Prescription drugs have also grown more popular. The professor added that a heroin shortage in recent years has resulted in fewer opioid users overall. That said, heroin is now the fourth most abused illegal substance in the country following ecstasy, methamphetamine and marijuana.
Idris’s report showed a decrease in the number of people using illicit intravenous drugs, noting a drop from 230,000 in 2008 to 70,000 in 2011. The professor was happy to note the decline but remains worried about the increasing use of psychoactive prescription drugs in Indonesia.
BNN’s Deputy Chief for Community Empowerment Bachtiar Tambunan divided drug users in the archipelago into three categories: approximately 1.6 million people “have tried” using drugs, 1.4 million are “regular users” and around 943,000 are avid users. Representing 74.5 percent of the total number, men still dominate the usage statistics while only 25.5 percent of the documented users are women.
The BNN deputy chief agreed with the university’s report, noting marijuana, crystal meth and ecstasy pills as the most popular among Indonesian drug users. He added that every year, a total of 158 million grams of marijuana, 219 million grams of crystal meth and 14 million ecstasy pills are consumed in the nation.
Prescription medications popularly experimented with by teenagers include painkillers and antidepressants such as subutex, somadril, calmlet, subuxone and tramadol.
The increase in drug use in the archipelago is one reason Indonesian President Joko Widodo continues to execute drug traffickers via firing squad.