Faith healing: Myanmar heroin addicts go cold turkey behind locked doors
A year ago, Wun Naung Lay left his village in northern Myanmar to look for work and found heroin instead. Today, the skeletal 25-year-old is locked up and going cold turkey beneath a filthy blanket in a bamboo cell.
Wun Naung Lay is one of more than 600 young men who have undergone primitive drug rehabilitation at the Youth for Christ Centre, a collection of tin-roofed shacks on a riverbank in Kachin State.
Myanmar is the world’s second-largest producer of opium after Afghanistan and use of its derivative, heroin, is widespread. The center’s popularity is a testament both to the severity of Myanmar’s drug problem and the lack of options for users in a poor country where modern treatment programs are rare.
It offers a 40-day “course” of prayer, Bible study and devotional singing, with football and weightlifting for those strong enough.
Detox begins in the Special Prayer Room, as the bamboo cell is called. New arrivals are locked in around the clock for seven to ten days.
“At first I just wanted to go home, but now I’m feeling a bit better,” said Wun Naung Lay, whose forearms are perforated with needle holes.