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Indonesians turning to drugs during the pandemic has become a topic of discussion after a certain celebrity couple’s recent meth bust, with official data pointing towards increased abuse due to stress and depression.

The National Narcotics Agency (BNN) said its data shows a spike in drug abuse during the pandemic, with the agency handling 45,227 cases in 2020 compared to 40,756 in 2019, before the pandemic reached Indonesian shores.

“There was indeed an increase, and it’s these conditions that are seized upon by drug pushers,” BNN Public Engagement Director Richard Marolop Nainggolan said in a statement yesterday.

Richard added that a lot of the cases handled in 2020 involved people who were stressed out or depressed due to struggles induced by the pandemic.

The statement came at a time when the public is still poring over the details of former sinetron (Indonesian soap opera) star Nia Ramadhani and her husband Ardi Bakrie’s high-profile narcotics bust this month. The couple, along with their driver, were sent to rehab after authorities found crystal meth in their possession and in their systems. 

The couple, who belong to one of the wealthiest families in Indonesia, were ridiculed online after Nia claimed that she relapsed with her husband in the last five months, citing work pressure amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are experiencing mental health issues, pandemic-induced or otherwise, please don’t turn to drugs. Seek help and contact the national mental health hotline at 119 (ext. 9)

This article, More Indonesians are turning to drugs due to pandemic-induced stress: BNN, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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