Phnom Penh has the highest number of arrested drug users in the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Authority for Combating Drugs.
The report took a three-month snapshot of drug use in the country, examining the numbers and types of people who were arrested for drug use in nine cities and provinces from June to August.
Results showed that 1,033 suspected drug users were arrested by police in Phnom Penh during the three-month period. Of that number, nearly 80 percent were found to use amphetamines. Unemployed people made up the majority of users, followed close behind by street children. Battambang province was ranked second with 695 users, many of them laborers, and Kandal province was third with 610.
Lour Ramin, NACD deputy secretary-general, said the number of Cambodians using drugs is increasing. The report also raised concerns about the lack of treatment centers in the country.
“It is a very critical issue for the government and authorities,” Lour Ramin said.
Graham Shaw of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime said he is not surprised by the report’s findings. “Every indication is we are the heart of it,” he said. “People are just not aware of the damage it can do to your body and mental state.” The city’s population density and the larger numbers of students and workers are factors, he said.
However, the numbers of drug takers cited in the police report should be viewed with caution as the majority of users do not get caught, Shaw said.
Drug use continues to escalate as a result of easy access and low prices, he added.