Yaba is said to have been originally used by Hitler who gave it to his soldiers to combat against fatigue, heighten endurance and elevate the mood. This Nazi lineage has given the drug street credibility like nothing before it. While most of the ingredients to make it can be purchased legally, and produced within a couple of hours in a casserole dish, there are no such known drug labs in Bangladesh. Yaba is a mixture of methamphetamine, caffeine and at times heroin. Some people claim it is the ultimate upper, the inevitable crash after the high is the darkest side of the drug. It had been linked to lung and kidney disorders, hallucinations, increased and irregular heartbeat along with a host of other psychological effects. Users of Yaba run the risk of rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and damage to the small vessels in the brain that can lead to a stroke. Chronic use of the drug can result in inflammation of the heart lining. Overdoses can cause hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), convulsions, and death. Yaba users also may have episodes of violent behaviour, paranoia, anxiety, confusion and insomnia. Those coming off the drug are also susceptible to severe depression and suicidal urges. It is basically a non-stop adrenaline rush, followed by exactly the opposite feeling.
The route to Bangladesh is fairly simple; the little pink pills are produced in Burma and smuggled into Bangladesh mainly through Teknaf. The Burma news agency claims that when the drug crosses the border it is sold at approximately Tk 13 per pill. By the time the pills reach Dhaka and have gone through various middle men, they are sold for between Tk 50 and Tk 60. The real money is made when the dealers in Dhaka get a hold of it, they mark it up almost 500% and the average pill sells for between Tk 350 and Tk 400.
There are varying degrees of good pills and bad pills. The Chita, for instance, is considered the lower grade of Yaba, it is distinguished by small marks on the pill. Then there is the Golap Jol or Rose Water family of pills which are generally considered the highest grade of Yaba. While the Chita gives the user a relatively smaller buzz, the Golap Jol” gives a pure rush, something like a burst of adrenaline. The pills themselves also come under much scrutiny, they have the letters WY inscribed on them, when the Y is elongated and the colour of the pill is pure pink then it is apparently good Yaba. The information regarding this one drug is immense and what is even cts under treatment are termed as ‘recovering patients’ all throughout their lives. ch is absolutely necessary. They would give Anusheh lots of pills and more medicine to get over her depression and drug problem.” According to both Lubna and Islam, recovering patients are not supposed to be given even sleeping pills. “In fact, anything that can be a cause for addiction is avoided,” explains Islam. “In many cases even gambling is strictly forbidden. a chance for the original addiction to take over the patient.” Not all families prefer to come out into the open, so Islam had figured that a phone network would also work well. That was when he approached one of the leading telecom companies in the country, Grameen Phone, and asked them to provide with phone hotlines, where concerned parents could call and talk about the problems. “Families start to disintegrate once children start going through drug problems,” says Islam. Parents of addicted children call the hotline numbers 24 hours a day and talk about the problems that they face at home. They have even started to meet at least once a month to discuss about their problems and look for alternative ways of solving their problems. “Most of the callers always turn out to be mothers,” explains Lubna, who along with Islam counsels through one of the hotline numbers. “Mothers are the target in most cases,” she smiles. “They get the blame from their families, husbands even their children sometimes for the drug problems that the child is going through.