Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos. These 3 countries form an area
known as the Golden Triangle. It was once known as one of the most
extensive areas for opium production in the world, but during the 1980s and 90s
it shifted towards the production of Yaba, a methamphetamine-like drug. Yaba is cheap to produce, and demand rose quickly due to the
prohibition of amphetamines in Thailand. There are several reasons for the shift to Yaba, such as the close involvement of rebel guerillas,
who depended on opium production as a source of funds, with political reforms in Myanmar. But no one knows the true reason. In Thailand, Yaba has now surpassed opium and heroin as the most serious drug problem facing the nation. At first, Yaba was used mainly by
long-distance drivers to help them stay awake, but it is now a popular party drug among young people. In 2003, former Prime Minister Thaksin became
aware of the seriousness of the problem and declared a war on drugs. Near the northern border of Thailand, a popular region for illegal trafficking, joint raids by the police and military have
already resulted in over 3,000 deaths. However, the government’s policies were futile. It has come to light that at least
half of those who died in the raids were normal citizens who had absolutely
no connection to illegal trafficking. There are also said to be nearly 8 million
addicts remaining throughout the country. 500,000 pills of Yaba are consumed each day in Thailand. The yearly amount is an astounding 180 million pills. On the outskirts of Bangkok, we visited what is said to be the most effective
drug rehabilitation program in the world, the Wat Tham Krabok Monastery. As part of their drug rehabilitation program, patients at the monastery take part in
group vomiting sessions. Though the facility initially treated
mainly opium or heroin addicts, Yaba addicts now comprise over 90% of their patients. Hello, I’m Yuka. Before we begin the tour and
let you see the drug treatment, you must first make the proper vows. You have just made a vow to not smoke or use drugs
for the rest of your life. I could make out the names of drugs like cocaine,
morphine, and heroin in what he was saying. And of course Yaba. I guess everyone has to pledge that they
won’t use any of those drugs before they’re allowed inside to take part in the program. Tham Krabok Temple was founded in 1957 by Abbot Yai, Abbot Charoen,
and Abbot Chamroon Panchan. Our rehabilitation program began in 1959. So we’ve been treating drug addicts for
over 50 years now. Exercise! This is one of our patients. His name is Jek.
He’s going home tomorrow. Yuka. Nice to meet you. So you’re leaving rehab tomorrow? Yes, I’m going home tomorrow. So today is your last day. Yes. How do you feel? I feel better, so much better. Okay. That’s good. I’ll show you around the place. This is where we get treatment. And over there is where we relax and watch TV. – This is our ping pong table. Come in.
– Oh awesome, there’s a ping pong table. Look at that. “Crazy Time End.” These were drawn by the patients here. Over here is the red shirt area. Patients who have taken the vomit medication
5 times already wear red shirts. New patients wear white for the first 5 days. What do you have to do every day?
Are there set things you have to do? We wake up at 4:30 am to clean the temple.
We sweep and clean everything. Then we recite the national anthem at 8 am
and drink our herbal tea. At 11:30 am we head to the steam sauna. And then at 3 pm, it’s time for the vomit session. Everyone’s headed to the sauna now
so I’m going to join them. The treatment course lasts 15 days. For the first 5 days, every patient must
drink a special tea that makes them vomit. It’s a means of purging toxins from the body. For the next 10 days, the patients drink
herbal tea and go to a herbal steam sauna. This further completes the body’s detox
through the skin. So these are the herbs? These are all of the herbs we use. There are four kinds of herbs: morning glory, cogon grass, lemongrass,
and castor leaves. They all go into the oven behind you. The oven produces steam that goes
into the sauna rooms. So this where the herbs go. It smells amazing. Earlier on in the treatment, the patients find that their sweat is very thick. Until they are healthy, their bodies will normally sweat like this
with the help of the herbs. Which drug were you hooked on? Yaba. I took it for the first time when I was 19. I was working at a stone mill,
usually on the late night shift. One of my friends came up and asked
if I wanted to try some Yaba. I tried it and have been hooked ever since. At first, I just did 2 or 3 tablets a day, but I began doing more and more
as the days went on. I eventually started doing 7 or 8 tablets a day. 7 or 8 tablets a day!? I couldn’t sleep. I just wanted to take more and more. I couldn’t get out of bed if I didn’t have
any Yaba to smoke. Just how prevalent is Yaba in Thai society? We headed into central Bangkok to hear
the word on the street. Within just a few hours of arriving in Bangkok, we already saw the signs of Yaba at work. While we were waiting here, some guys on a bike sped by and grabbed the tripod we had sitting here! They stole it. Who were those guys who just stole our tripod? They’re from a motorcycle gang called VANZ. They’re all druggies. – Yeah they’re druggies. Yaba addicts snatching purses and bags
for their next hit. It happens every day around here.
Every day. What do you think about people who take Yaba? They’re the scum of society. It makes people go crazy. They’re bad. I think a lot of people use it, but I’m not sure. It’s not good.
I don’t even smoke cigarettes. I guess people don’t talk about it because
they don’t want to be involved. I’ve only seen it on the news. Lots of people use Yaba.
It’s number one. Ganja is number two. Then it’s Ice. What is this for? Medicine. What kind of medicine?
Is this for Yaba? No?
Somebody told me that these are for Yaba. This is for marijuana? Somebody told me that this is for Yaba. So Yaba is like really taboo? Yaba is taboo.
Yaba is no-no. Okay. They say these aren’t for smoking Yaba, but that wasn’t what they said yesterday. They could be denying it because of the camera. I’ll get this one then. The fact that you can buy a pipe like this
openly on the street just goes to show how much
people are using Yaba here. Yaba is made mainly of methamphetamine, which constitutes 22% to 23% of the tablet. It also contains caffeine which is one of the
chemical precursors for making yaba In Thai, “Yaba” means “crazy pill.” Or even just “madness.” It used to be called “Yama” (horse pill). Yaba became a popular drug 12 years ago.
A bright orange pill. The Ministry of Health changed the name from Yama
to Yaba to scare people away from using it. After asking around persistently, we finally made contact with someone
who uses Yaba on a daily basis. After obtaining his consent, we brought along a spy camera to get
a real look at a Yaba sale. How often do you go get this stuff? Only when I drink alcohol. How much does it cost? 200 baht a tablet. Do you always buy Yaba from the same dealer? Yep, the same guy. Do you feel nervous when you go buy Yaba? Only sometimes.
Usually he delivers it to my home. Other times I have to get it myself. Hello? I need a delivery. I need 10. Yeah, 10 of them. Is it really that easy to get ahold of Yaba in this city? They’re all over Thailand. There he is. The Yaba that is widely used here is
produced in Myanmar, a bit further up from the northern border of Thailand. According to police arrest reports, the Yaba is smuggled across the northern border, especially into Chiang Rai province. The Chiang Rai border route is the
most commonly known, but another route across the border with
Laos is growing popular as well. People switched from heroin to Yaba because of the widespread HIV back then, especially among heroin addicts who used needles. Teenagers switched from injecting heroin
to smoking Yaba instead. This shift took place around 12 years ago. Wow they’re bright red. Are there different kinds of Yaba? Yaba always has the same stamp
but does come in different colors. It smells really sweet! Smoking? Okay. You do this to peel off the foil. Does everybody smoke it? Some people do just swallow the pill though. I learned this way from friends.
This is how they do it. So I only smoke it. Now I’m going to make a straw for
inhaling the smoke. It looks really legit. Like he totally knows what he’s doing. How do you feel now? High. My head feels heavy. Heavy?
So it really kicks in like that, no? But it goes away quick. A tablet lasts about an hour. One hour? Yaba is a stimulant drug, so it makes users feel more energetic. Some long-term users are found to have
lost memories, and have brain damage from extended use. Once they reach a state of acute psychosis, they lose their minds due to hallucinations. They become paranoid and think
that others are trying to harm them, so they grab weapons and try to defend themselves. There have even been cases where addicts
became so crazy that they killed someone. When did you get here? Today is my third day of treament. How is the experience?
How are you coping? It’s like torture. I feel so bad. I’ve been an addict for 20 years. I lost all my money to drugs. I have 2 children and I kicked them
out of the house. I had a little over a million baht saved up,
but it’s all gone. Same with my work. But what really made me come here was
the thought of killing my neighbor. I was hallucinating.
My head was a big blur. You look really young.
How old are you? 14 years old. Fourteen?
What drug were you on? Yaba. And a little bit of Ice. How did you get into it? My brother asked me to try it out. There was a dealer near our house, so we
bought the drugs and tried them together. I was 12 the first time I did drugs. Our medicine is made from plants
that can be found around the temple. It’s strictly herbal. The only thing you feel when you take the medicine
is that everything has to come out. You only want to vomit. As soon as you drink water… you will immediately vomit. It’s very important for me that
I quit for good this time. My wife and kids are unhappy. I need to quit
because my family is on the verge of breaking. The Yaba made me lose my temper easily. I’d get enraged if my kids were gone
for even an hour. I broke things and hit them
until they couldn’t stand living with me anymore. I love my children.
I want to live with them after I’ve cleaned up. I spent all my money on drugs
and gave my children nothing. I became a different person. I stopped caring about everything. I didn’t care about anything, not even my family. All that mattered was finding drugs
and using them. My girlfriend was worried,
but I never listened to her. I hurt her, I hit her. I beat her and that’s why she left me. What made you decide to come here
and overcome your drug addiction? My chest was in pain. My health became extremely poor. It hurt right here. It would hurt bad
whenever I smoked Yaba. My legs, my back, everything was in tremendous pain.
I knew if I kept going, I would die. That was the final straw for me. Do you have any brothers or sisters? I have a younger brother who is in jail now. And an older brother who passed away. Why is your little brother in jail? He was a drug dealer and an addict. The police set up a sting and he was arrested. A friend of his set him up. Are you feeling okay? I feel like I need to vomit as soon as
I take the medicine. If I don’t vomit, it’ll make me even sicker. My chest hurts.
When I drink a lot of water my chest hurts. That’s when I puke. But this is the last time you have to do it. Good luck. Nice one. Good job. It tastes really bitter.
It’s like torture. But I feel better as soon as I vomit. Yesterday I didn’t puke everything out. I went to lie down after, and felt like I was dying. I had to puke again to feel normal. I have to take the vomit tea for 3 more days. Good luck. Quitting drugs is about mind over matter. It’s about your heart and emotions. That’s why making the vows is so important.
The medicine just helps the body relax and heal. Addicts need emotional strength to
keep their mind away from their old ways. If your mind has an understanding of truth
and religion at its core, then you will be able to stay far away from drugs. You could say that we detox the body
and use religion to cure the mind, so that they will have something to
hold onto in the future. Now we’re getting ready to do the BIN
(a farewell tradition). We’ll sing, wish each other luck,
and then have a massive hug. I hope he doesn’t get back into drugs
after he leaves. I will quit. I know I can do it. This is my last meal here.
The next one will be at home. We’re stars!
They’re filming us for Japanese TV. With a success rate of over 70%,
Wat Tham Krabok Monastery has changed many lives. Not just of those wishing to overcome Yaba addiction,
but also their families’. However, as a nation, Thailand still has
yet to win its battle against methamphetamines. On the last day at the monastery, a massive drug bust at Thailand’s northern border
with Myanmar made headlines. Over 3 million tablets, or more than 27 million dollars worth of Yaba,
was intercepted by the authorities. With several billion pills smuggled in every year, catches like this are far from rare. Apparently, only half of the smuggled pills are intercepted
at the border before they reach the hands of users. Yaba is the source of so many problems.
It even hurts the economy. Children who abuse Yaba from an early age
lose the ability to expand their capabilities. These children are the future of our country, so it’s a great loss for all of us as a nation. If something goes wrong, I’ll get arrested. So yes, I’ve thought of quitting. It’s kinda bad.
No drug is good, really. There are no exceptions. All drugs are bad. I just want to say that no one should try Yaba. You can get addicted to it after
just one or two tries. Yaba is very addictive and easy to get ahold of. All it takes is a couple of tries, and you’re hooked. I came here to quit for my parents. I want to quit.
I chose to come here myself. No, I’m not afraid. I’m stronger now and determined to quit. I’ve taken the vows and promised my mother. I want to be the man of the house, to make her proud of me. I want to take care of her.