Centre for Drug Research USM

Academic Staff

Professor Dr. Vicknasingam Kasinather


Prof Vicknasingam   


BSoc. Sc. (Hons), MA, PhD (USM)

Contact Information:
E-mail: vickna@usm.my
Telephone: +604-653 3272
Fax: +604-656 8669
Address: Centre for Drug Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang

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My research interest is to understand and develop behavioral interventions for people who use drugs. Behavioral surveys are conducted to identify treatment gaps for people who use drugs. Surveys to identify treatment barriers for people who use drugs and integration of substance abuse treatment with other medical services is also an area of my research. I am also working with my colleagues to conduct several clinical trials among people who use opiates and amphetamines. In these trials, medications and behavioral interventions are provided and measured for its efficacy. An interesting emerging area of research is on recreational drug use (New Psychoactive Substances).

Current Research Projects:

  • Development of medical treatments for co-occuring opioid (heroin or morphine) and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) dependence (COATS)
  • A study of issues related to buprenorphine treatment in Malaysia
  • Developing international collaboration in addiction research between Universiti Sains Malaysia and Yale University
  • Project health economic operational research (York model)
  • Drug counseling and abstinent-contingent take home buprenorphine in Malaysia
  • Pilot project to provide drug treatment for people who use drugs in Besut, Terengganu


Current PhD students (as main supervisor)

  • Sun Tun

Current Masters students (as main supervisor)

  • Wan Maisarah Wan Ahmad Kamal
  • Neshalatha A/P Govarthnapany



  1. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Müller, C.P., Swogger, M.T., Rahim, A.A., Leong Bin Abdullah M.F.I., Vicknasingam, B.K. (2018) Severity of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) psychological withdrawal symptoms. J Psychoactive Drugs. 2018 Aug 28:1-6. doi: 10.1080/02791072.2018.1511879. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Vicknasingam, B., Narayanan, S., Singh, D., Chawarski, M. (2018) Decriminalization of drug use. Curr Opin Psychiatry., 31, 300-305.
  3. Singh, D., Murugaiyah, V., Hamid, S.B.S., Kasinather, V., Chan, M.S.A., Ho, E.T.W., Grundmann, O., Chear, N.J.Y., Mansor, S.M. (2018) Assessment of gonadotropins and testosterone hormone levels in regular Mitragyna speciosa (Korth.) users. J Ethnopharmacol., 221, 30-36.
  4. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Vicknasingam, B.K., Prozialeck, W.C., Ramanathan, S., Zainal, H., Harun, S.N. (2018) Severity of pain and sleep problems during kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) cessation among regular kratom users. J Psychoactive Drugs., 20, 1.
  5. Schottenfeld, R.S., Chawarski, M.C., Sofuoglu, M., Chooi, W.T., Zaharim, N.M., M Yasin, M.A., Ahmad, I., Syed Jaapar, S.Z., Vicknasingam, B.K. (2018) Atomoxetine for amphetamine-type stimulant dependence during buprenorphine treatment: A randomized controlled trial. Drug Alcohol Depend., 186, 130.
  6. Singh, D., Müller, C.P., Murugaiyah, V., Hamid, S.B.S., Vicknasingam, B.K., Avery, B., Chear, N.J.Y., Mansor, S.M. (2018) Evaluating the hematological and clinical-chemistry parameters of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) users in Malaysia. J Ethnopharmacol., 214, 197.
  7. George, P., Vicknasingam, B., Thurairajasingam, S., Ramasamy, P., Mohd Yusof, H., Yasin, M.A.B.M., Shah, Z.U.B.S. (2018) Methadone complications amongst opioid-dependent patients in Malaysia: A case series. Drug Alcohol Rev., 37, 147.
  8. Hassan, Z., Bosch, O.G., Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Kasinather, B.V., Seifritz, E., Kornhuber, J., Quednow, B.B., Müller, C.P. (2017) Novel psychoactive substances-recent progress on neuropharmacological mechanisms of action for selected drugs. Front Psychiatry, 8, 152.
  9. Chooi, W.T., Mohd Zaharim, N., Desrosiers, A., Ahmad, I., Yasin, M.A.M., Syed Jaapar, S.Z., Schottenfeld, R.S., Vicknasingam, B.K., Chawarski, M.C. (2017) Early initiation of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) use associated with lowered cognitive performance among individuals with co-occurring opioid and ATS use disorders in Malaysia. J Psychoactive Drugs, 29, 1-7.
  10. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Vicknasingam, B., Corazza, O., Santacroce, R., Roman-Urrestarazu, A. (2017) Changing trends in the use of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) in Southeast Asia. Hum Psychopharmacol., doi: 10.1002/hup.2582.
  11. Desrosiers, A., Chooi, W.T., Zaharim, N.M., Ahmad, I., Mohd Yasin, M.A., Syed Jaapar, S.Z., Schottenfeld, R.S., Vicknasingam, B., Chawarski, M.C. (2016) Emerging drug use trends in Kelantan, Malaysia. J Psychoactive Drugs, 48 (3), 218-226.
  12. Singh, D., Narayanan, S., Vicknasingam, B. (2016) Traditional and non-traditional uses of Mitragynine (Kratom): A survey of the literature. Brain Res Bull., 126 (Pt 1), 41-46.
  13. Suppiah, B., Vicknasingam, B., Singh, D., Narayanan, S. (2016) Erectile dysfunction among people who use ketamine and poly-drugs. J Psychoactive Drugs, 48 (2), 86-92.
  14. Hser, Y.I., Liang, D., Lan, Y.C., Vicknasingam, B.K., Chakrabarti, A. (2016) Drug abuse, HIV, and HCV in Asian countries. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol., 11 (3), 383-393.
  15. Vicknasingam, B., Dazali, M.N., Singh, D., Schottenfeld, R.S., Chawarski, M.C. (2015) Buprenorphine/naloxone treatment practices in Malaysia: Results of national surveys of physicians and patients. Drug Alcohol Depend., 152, 164-169.
  16. Vicknasingam, B., Narayanan, S., Singh, D. (2015) The rise of groin injection among opiate drug users in Malaysia. International Journal of Prevention and Substance Abuse Disorder, 1 (3-4), 142-152.
  17. Rahman, F., Lall, P., Iqbal, S., Vicknasingam, B. (2015) Pain, instability, and familial discord: a qualitative study into women who use drugs in Malaysia. Harm Reduct J., 12, 52.
  18. Cinosi, E., Martinotti, G., Simonato,P., Singh, D., Demetrovics, Z., Roman-Urrestarazu, A., Bersani, F.S., Vicknasingam, B., Piazzon, G., Li, J.H., Yu, W.J., Kapitány-Fövény, M., Farkas, J., Di Giannantonio, M., Corazza, O. (2015) Following "the Roots" of Kratom (Mitragynaspeciosa): the evolution of an enhancer from a traditional use to increase work and productivity in Southeast Asia to a recreational psychoactive drug in western countries. BioMed Research International, Article ID 968786.
  19. Singh, D., Müller, C.P., Vicknasingam, B.K., Mansor S.M. (2015) Social functioning of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) users in Malaysia. J Psychoactive Drugs, 47 (2), 125-131.
  20. Vicknasingam, B., Singh, D., Suppiah, B., Schottenfeld, R.S., Chawarski, M.C. (2015) Current substance abuse disorders in Malaysia and HIV situation in Malaysia. J Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 10 (1), 14.
  21. Singh, D., Vicknasingam, B., Gan, K.M. (2015) Substance use characteristics of Amphetamine-Type- Stimulant (ATS) drug users in Malaysia. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol., 10 (1), 46.
  22. Singh, D., Müller, C.P., Vicknasingam, B.K. (2014) Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms and craving in regular users. Drug Alcohol Depend., 139 (1), 132-137.
  23. Singh, D., Chawarski M.C., Schottenfeld R., Vicknasingam, B. (2013) Substance abuse and HIV situation in Malaysia. J Food Drug Anal. 21 (4), S46–S51.
  24. Hassan, Z., Muzaimi, M., Navaratnam, V., Yusoff, N.H., Suhaimi, F.W., Vadivelu, R., Vicknasingam, B.K., Amato, D., von Hörsten, S., Ismail, N.I., Jayabalan, N., Hazim, A.I., Mansor, S.M., Müller, C.P. (2013) From kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioral effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neurosci Biobehav Rev., 37 (2), 138-51.
  25. Chawarski, M.C., Vicknasingam, B., Mazlan, M., Schottenfeld, R.S. (2012) ATS abuse and increased HIV risk among not-in-treatment opiate injectors in Malaysia. Drug Alcohol Depend., 124 (1-2), 177-180.
  26. Li, J.H., Vicknasingam, B., Cheung, Y.W., Zhou, W., Nurhidayat, A.W., Jarlais, D.C., Schottenfeld, R. (2011) To use or not to use: an update on licit and illicit ketamine use. Subst Abuse Rehabil., 2, 11-20.
  27. Narayanan, S., Vicknasingam, B., Robson, N.M. (2011) The transition to harm reduction: Understanding the role of non-governmental organisations in Malaysia. Int J Drug Policy, 22 (4), 311-317.
  28. Vicknasingam, B., Mazlan, M., Chawarski, M.C., Schottenfeld, R.S. (2010) Injection of buprenorphine and buprenorphine/naloxone tablets in Malaysia. Drug Alcohol Depend., 111 (1-2), 44 - 49.
  29. Narayanan, S., Vicknasingam, B. (2010). Responses to the illicit drug problem: insights from supply and demand analysis. Australian Economic Review, 43 (1), 88–99.
  30. Vicknasingam, B., Narayanan, S., Beng, G.T., Mansor, S.M. (2010) The informal use of ketum (Mitragyna speciosa) for opioid withdrawal and implications for drug substitution therapy. Int J Drug Policy, 21 (4), 283–288.
  31. Noorzurani, R., Vicknasingam, B., Narayanan, S. (2010) Illicit ketamine induced frequency of micturition in a young Malay female. Drug Alcohol Rev., 29 (3), 334–336.

Chapter in Book

  1. Marek Chawarski, Richard Schottenfeld and B. Vicknasingam. (2013) Treatment for drug dependence in Asia In: Drug Law Reform In Southeast Asia. Edt. Fifa Rahman and Nick Crofts. Lexington Publishers, USA.

Report to International Organizations (From 2010)

  1. Chinapan, B., Ennew, J. and Vicknasingam, B. (2011) Most-at-risk children-and-youth in central Kuala Lumpur; What do they think and know about risk? Report for UNICEF Malaysia.

Published Abstract

  1. Cinosi, E., Simonato, P., Singh, D., Bersani, F.S., Piazzon, G., Lupi, M., Marini, S., Kapitány-Fövény, M., Farkas, J., Demetrovics, Z., Roman-Urrestarazu, A., Vicknasingam, B., Li, J.H., Yu, W.J., Santacroce, R., Acciavatti, T., Martinotti, G., Di Giannantonio, M., Corazza, O. (2016) A comprehensive overview on Kratom. European Psychiatry, 33, S354-S355.
  2. Schottenfeld, R.S., Chawarski, M.C., Sofuoglu, M., Chooi, W.T., Zaharim, N.M., Yasin, M.A.M., Ahmad, I., Syed Jaapar, S.Z., Vicknasingam, B. (2015) Pilot study of atomoxetine for BUP/NX-maintained patients with co-occurring opioid and ATS use disorder. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 156, e183-e245.
  3. Chooi, W.T., Zaharim, N.M., Desrosiers, A., Ahmad, I., M. Yasin, M.A.M., Syed Jaapar, S.Z., Schottenfeld, R., Vicknasingam, B., Chawarski, M. (2015) Evaluation of cognitive functioning of individuals with co-occurring opiate and amphetamine-type stimulants use disorders in Malaysia. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 156, e2-e101.

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Centre for Drug Research,
Universiti Sains Malaysia,
11800 USM, Penang, Malaysia.
Tel : +604-658 3444/ +604-653 3888 Ext. 3272  |   Faks : +604-656 8669
E-mail :  dir_cdr@usm.my