Yaba – or yah bah – is known as the ‘Mad Drug’. It is sweeping the underbelly of many countries, destroying families and killing addicts.

This drug was originally known as Ya Ma - Horse Drug. It was given to horses pulling heavy loads up mountains in the far northern Shan State of Thailand.

Yaba is a deadly mix of methamphetamine and caffeine that is produced in tablet form.

How the drug is used

Yaba tablets are circular and usually coloured red, pink or orange. Addicts take the drug by swallowing, smoking, snorting or injecting.

If swallowed, the addict finds that the drug can work for about 10 – 12 hours. If smoked, the pill is placed on aluminium foil, heated from below under a flame, and as it melts the vapour is inhaled using a straw or pipe. This high can last anywhere between 1 - 3 hours. Some addicts prefer to crush the ‘tab’ and snort it while fewer crush it, mix it with a solvent and inject it. Addicts who inject drugs prefer the ‘pure’ product of ice (methamphetamine) once their drug addiction has reached and advanced stage.

The ‘High’

Yaba users don’t get much sleep. The drug keeps them awake and alert for extended periods.

Yaba is also highly addictive. One tablet is never enough, neither is too.

The addict experiences euphoria and hot flushes, talks incessantly and gets highly impulsive. Appetite is killed.

The adverse consequences

After the high, a low follows. The addict gets increasingly irritable, aggressive and is not able to sleep easily. Some addicts start taking sedatives to calm the low period. The low period can be extremely depressing.

Yaba damages the smaller blood vessels in the brain. The drug also adversely affects breathing, blood pressure and heart rate.

Chasing the high

Due to the highly addictive nature of this drug, Yaba users may binge on the drug for days. This continual use can be dangerous.

Like a typical addict, the Yaba user wants to recreate the original high. This is not possible, but the addict repeatedly tries in vain to recapture the initial high. This leads to continued use and higher doses of the drug.

Binges trigger some really uncomfortable effects - hand tremors, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, nervousness, memory loss and confusion. Some addicts lose control and turn violent at the least provocation.

Get help before it’s too late

Yaba addiction is difficult to overcome. Huge cravings will overpower any willpower. The typical addictive thought of ‘just one more’ will counter any decision to quit.

The addict needs professional support in a protected environment. Don’t hesitate to seek help. The earlier the better. There’s no shame in seeking help. The drug destroys families and kills the addict. Get help before it’s too late.

A residential rehab is ideal. The addict is first detoxed with withdrawal management. An extended stay will help restore balance in physical and mental health.

It’s your life or the life of a loved one. You need to act fast.

In Asia, Hope Trust rehab (est. 2002) is a proven destination for safe, effective and confidential treatment of addiction.