"The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." That was the stark conclusion of a recent study by politicians and former world leaders.

These words resonate in Asia, which is awash with a highly addictive drug – methamphetamine – better known by street names such as ya ba, shabu, ice or speed.

And it is a drug that governments seem powerless to stop. Secret factories produce more methamphetamine than the police can ever hope to seize.

With the drug growing more popular among young people, attention has turned to the region's drug rehabilitation centres, where hundreds of thousands of Asians are forcefully detained at any one time.

Critics say these boot camps are not only inhumane but ineffective, with 60 - 95 per cent of residents returning to drugs upon release.

But a community-based programme in Malaysia is treating dependence not as a crime but as a chronic illness, and argues that harm reduction is safe and cost-effective as it is cheaper to treat users than to jail them.

On this edition of 101 East, we investigate Asia's speed trap.

 
101 East airs each week at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2230; Friday: 0930; Saturday: 0330; Sunday: 1630.

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Source: Al Jazeera