Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 12:38 UK

Educated and addicted in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, like Cambodia before it, is becoming a major new drug transit route from Asia into the west.

Cambodian teenager Ney Someta, who is studying in Chittagong, Bangladesh, talks about how she decided to look deeper into Bangladesh's problem after becoming tempted by drugs herself .

Ney Someta
Ney Someta has fought her own battles against the temptation of drugs

I didn't know at first that I would become so involved in this issue.

It was from my curiosity about drug addiction, that I started to realise that there are many differences between the popularity, the usage, the general knowledge, and the awareness of and about drugs in Bangladesh and Cambodia.

For instance, in Cambodia, there are many awareness-raising programmes, and most people understand about drug abuse.

I have been taught since primary school about the cause and effects of drugs.

By contrast, in Bangladesh, drug addiction remains the "elephant in the room".

People sort of understand that this problem is happening, but they do not want to talk about it.

While I understood that people take drugs because of depression and out of curiosity, it was hard for me to believe it until I was having a hard time myself and tempted to take drugs.

It was just an idea.

I knew I wouldn't do it because if I ever touched it, my friends would kill me, and I would surely kill myself too.


From meeting all these people, I found out that I would prefer to face the truth instead of dying in shame, no matter how hard it could be

Going through this and also having the chance to meet and listen to addicts through the BBC World Service's Your Story project gave me a new perspective on drugs.

For this project I visited a drug rehabilitation centre in Chittagong that was established by a group of former addicts.

It is a small organization with limited facilities - the people in the centre are called "clients" not addicts.

Dr Sarforaj Choudhari works at the centre and he told me that drug addiction in Bangladesh is very severe, however, the problem is like a stigma that no one will talk about openly.

"This really is a panic scenario in Bangladesh," he told me.

"It's the young generation, maybe doctors, police, politicians, bankers - they are frequently addicted."

I also met Hassan, who has been addicted to "yaba" which is local slang for methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth.

Hassan is 33 years old and he's a member of the local chamber of commerce.

But his addiction to yaba means that he is messing up his opportunities.

"On Thursday and Friday I can't maintain my office," he says.

"There's so much work, but I can't manage it. I have all these opportunities, but I go to hell."

Easy access

centre motto
There are few rehabilitation centres in Bangladesh and many are underfunded

Drugs are easily available in Bangladesh's bigger cities.

Osru, a student in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, told me she started to inject heroin when she was studying.

Her best friend's boyfriend was an addict so he supplied her with the drug and needles.

She took the drug for just over six months but has now stopped.

She says: "With heroin, I also took sleeping pills so I used to sleep for two, three days."

She says that she still has trouble sleeping.

From meeting all these people, I found out that I would prefer to face the truth instead of dying in shame, no matter how hard it could be.

I realised that if I survived my own difficult time, I would live forever.

So here I am, still breathing with my short nose.

Failure didn't kill me; it just gave me some hard lessons that I might need later.

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