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Phuket Lifestyle: Drug addiction – Yassine’s cautionary tale

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Lifestyle: Drug addiction – Yassine’s cautionary tale | Thaiger

PHUKET: Morocco over the years has been romanticized by Hollywood and through the prose of numerous authors. It’s a place that conjures up images of bazaars, palaces and bustling market squares. But the vision of Morocco from those looking in, is a lot different to the one Yassine Darkaoui endured while looking out from the Northern city of Tangiers.

Yassine started smoking cannabis, out of curiosity, when he was 19, and, in a way, to show himself and others that he could play with, and handle the “fire”.

He then made what is a natural progression for a lot of drug addicts; moving onto ecstasy and heroin by the time he was 23.

Prior to his drug dependence, Yassine represented the Moroccan National team in Laser Class sailing events before addiction forced him to quit.

Heroin took over his life for the next eight years: ” I needed more and more money, work became hard and I started to forget friends and family. When there is no heroin it felt worse than torture.”

The drug controlled his life to a point where he couldn’t function without it. His life kept spiraling out of control: “I was like a slave and it was impossible for me to live without the drugs.

Everyday when I woke up, I would smoke, and at work, every hour I was going to the toilet. One day my boss said to me, ‘Hey, I will put a telephone line in the toilet for you as you spend a lot of time in there’.”

After recovering from his second overdose, and upon the leaving hospital, Yassine thought the only escape was suicide as the grip heroin had on him was so strong.

But with the help of his aunt, who found Yassine wandering the streets of Tangiers, he spent two weeks getting clean in a psychiatric hospital – only allowed to leave under 24-hour family supervision.

At that time, he was suffering from chronic depression and had to take 20 pills a day just to feel ‘normal’.

Even with the help of prescription medication he still thought about heroin everyday.

The sharp reality of the real world was a lot different from the world his drugged mind had formed over the years: “When you are high, you live more in your mind than in reality and the heroin helps the mind to create a parallel world. The longer you take the drug the bigger the parallel world becomes. You disconnect from reality and live only in your head.”

The depression went away after six months but his addiction remained and he started using again.

“I took [drugs] every other day for a year and then one day, when I was with my girlfriend, she helped me to see the way the drug worked and said it would kill me or I would be poor.”

Yassine decided to follow his girlfriend Adelaide to Thailand to try and break away from the addiction and start a clean new life.

He stopped taking the drugs three days before his flight.

“To break a habit you have to be positive that the mind can be conditioned to new things and it is possible to change the way your mind works.”

The sun-soaked Moroccan now has the personality of a man who has been given a fresh start in life.

On Phuket, Yassine has rekindled his love affair with sailing and says spending time on the water is a form of therapy to help keep his mind balanced.

He participated in last year’s King’s Cup and Phuket Race week.

He says that he now wants to warn children in Phuket about the dangers of drug addiction and has recently shared his life experiences at HeadStart school, where he gave a brutally honest talk about drugs and their effects to year 9 and 10 students.

“The solution is not to put the addict in prison, the solution is to teach the young people that there are other ways to feel high,” said Yassine.

“The drug is like any product and anyone has the opportunity to buy the product.”

The other way to ‘feel high’ for Yassine is sailing, and he is about to embark on a personal challenge that will be the most demanding sailing experience of his life.

He is attempting to sail a 150 mile course in a Laser dinghy, starting from Phuket, to try and beat the record held by Olympic bronze medalist, Michael Blackburn who sailed a Laser dinghy 117 nautical miles across the Bass Straits in 13 hours.

So far he has had physical, mental and technical training to prepare him for this record breaking attempt.

He also received instruction on sailing during the night, which will be the toughest part of the challenge as he only has GPS and a small torch to guide him.

Yassine is being helped by Andaman Sea Club, the company of Chris Jongerius, CDR Pornprom “Gop” Sagultem of the Thai Royal Navy and his coach Chris Millington, who has trained the British army.

To follow Yassine’s progress, visit: andamanlaserchallenge.blogspot.com.

— Andrew Scott

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cannabis may ease lung inflammation from Covid-19, study

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Cannabis may ease lung inflammation from Covid-19, study | Thaiger
Stock photo by Washarapol D Bin Yo Jundang for Pexels

Cannabis may help ease and reduce lung inflammation for Covid-19 patients, according to a recent study. Researchers in the study claim the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, cannabinol, or CBD, has anti-inflammatory properties.

More research should be done on how CBD and treating severe lung inflammation from the coronavirus, according to researchers from University of Nebraska and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute indicates. Their recent peer-reviewed article in the latest issue of Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity investigates cannabis’ anti-inflammatory qualities.

Covid-19 can cause inflammation that leads to pneumonia which can clog lungs and cause breathing difficulties, an often deadly symptom of the coronavirus. This is why researchers are emphasising anti-inflammatory treatments for infected patients.

“There are drug treatments like Tocilizumab that clears patients’ lungs with a 90% success rate, but the side effects are harsh, including the risk of coronary artery disease and pancreas inflammations. Cannabis may be a key solution since it doesn’t carry such severe negative side effects.”

The CBD treatment made from cannabis does not carry the same effects of THC or smoking marijuana would, though THC has also been shown to be anti-inflammatory but is with more side effects. Cannabis already carries FDA approval, even being used for children with intractable epilepsy.

Aside from anti-inflammatory use, CBD also reduces several factors that contribute to severe Covid-19 cases and also increases proteins that prevent the virus from replicating by activating immune cells. Previous studies with asthmatic animals showed CBD reduced airway inflammation as well as pulmonary fibrosis, which can be an after-effect of Covid-19 damaging and scarring lung tissue causing breathing problems.

The cannabis study on lung inflammation shows that doses up to 1500 milligram a day were safe for up to 2 weeks. The researchers also noted that as an added bonus CBD reduces anxiety, something very useful for the stress of life during a pandemic. Helpfully, cannabis was recently legalised in Thailand and the government has been drafting regulations on importing it.

While the article doesn’t directly link cannabis as a treatment for Covid-19, the evidence on CBD’s effect on lung inflammation, a dangerous symptom of coronavirus, makes further research worthwhile. The researchers urge further research to experiment if cannabis can be directly incorporated into Covid-19 treatment to help with inflammation and anxiety too.

SOURCE: Forbes

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Thailand drafting new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds

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Thailand drafting new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds | Thaiger
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A new regulations for cannabis and hemp seeds imports is in the works by Thailand’s Agriculture Department. With certain parts of the cannabis plant now off the narcotics list, many are tapping into the market for CBD, or cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component in hemp and cannabis.

With the rising demand for hemp and cannabis, the department is revising regulations to make the rules more clear, according to department’s director general, Pichet Wiriyapapha. Those importing cannabis and hemp seeds will also need to get permission from the department. He says they plan to announce the new plan on cannabis and hemp seed regulations in May.

“Now we have only four strains of hemp developed for higher fibre yield, but not for the strain for higher CBD that is currently required for cosmetics and healthcare products. That is why we do need to actively develop such a strain to respond to the high demand in the market.”

CBD is known for its relaxing effects. Although there is still little research to back the claims, many say CBD can lesson anxiety and depression as well as provide relief for muscle pain and arthritis. In Thailand, CBD is growing in popularity, but parts of the cannabis plant high in the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, are still classified as a Category 5 narcotic.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Thai farmers warned of hemp – growing scams

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Thai farmers warned of hemp – growing scams | Thaiger

Thai farmers are being warned of hemp – growing scams after the FDA says some farmers may be approached to grow without gaining permission to import hemp seeds yet. The possible scams have farmers fearing they may be cheated after some have reportedly already started setting up networks in other provinces in preparation to start new enterprises.

According to the FDA, there are only 7 companies currently allowed to import hemp seeds, but they haven’t been given permits yet. Furthermore, none have been told they can start growing hemp as the process has not been solidified. As of now, any company that wants to import the seeds, but notify authorities of where they are getting the seeds from.

They also have to notify authorities of what specific strain of hemp they intend to grow as well as what factories would buy the hemp in order to process it.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is pushing the FDA to start issuing permits for the cultivation, importation and production of hemp seeds as he says it could help farmers increase their incomes, especially after Covid has hit Thailand’s economy hard.

“As for hemp cultivation, each farmer must seek permission individually.”

“A permit to grow hemp cannot be applied to a group of farmers because each one must inform authorities about which land is being set aside for cultivation and when.”

Potential hemp growers can visit www.fda.moph.go.th to get information regarding the application procedures with interested parties needing to contact the FDA to set the process in motion.

Thailand’s Narcotics Control Board agreed late last year to remove cannabis and leaves from its list of banned drugs for medicinal purposes. Now, restaurants are sprouting up nationwide, offering CBD – infused food and drinks for public consumption.

CBD is different from the psychoactive ingredient of THC, which is still currently illegal in Thailand.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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