In recent years there appears to have been a slight decline in the amount of illegal drug use taking place in Hong Kong. This is certainly a move in the right direction, but there is still plenty of reason for concern. There are now many more young drug users that in the past and, this has worrying implications for the future. This type of behavior can completely take over the life of the individual and cause problems not only for them and their family but also society as a whole.
In 2010 there were believed to be 12,420 drug users in Hong Kong. This is a decrease of 11.2% from 2009 when the number of drug users were believed to be 13,988. The number of people under 21 in Hong Kong who are abusing illegal drugs increased between 2004 and 2008, but now appears to be decreasing again – although still higher than 2004. The mean age for drug users is between 33 and 35.
The drugs that people are most likely to abuse in Hong Kong include:
* 38.4% of Hong Kongers are believed to consume alcohol at least occasionally.
* It is suggested that heroin is the most common illegal drug of abuse among those who are over 21 in Hong Kong, and it accounts for 78.9% of all illegal drug use. It accounts for only 26% of drug abuse for those aged under 21.
* Ecstasy (MDMA) is used by 10.9% of those drug users over 21 years of age. This is the most widely abused drug for those who are aged under 21 – it accounts for 51.5% of their drug abuse.
* Cannabis only makes up 5% of drug use for those who are aged over 21.
* Ketamine is the most commonly abused psychotropic substance.
* Cocaine use is becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong
It is believed that 32.3% of drug users in Hong Kong will use more than one type of drug.
Drug abuse can lead to a number of problems including:
* This type of behavior often leads to addiction. The individual who had become dependent on drugs enters a downward spiral that often leads to an early death.
* Many individuals who use these substances end up overdosing because the strength of these substances is not regulated due to their illegality. It is possible for a first time drug user to die from a drugs overdose.
* The behavior of the addict may be out of control. They may become violent or engage in other unacceptable behaviors when they are intoxicated.
* Maintaining a drug habit is expensive. Eventually the individual may need to turn to crime in order to support their habit.
* Those who become dependent on drugs will find it hard to maintain steady employment.
* Young people who abuse these substances will not perform well in school. This means that their future opportunities in life will be severely limited.
* Drug abuse causes a great deal of damage to mental and physical health.
* Many addicts will end up in prison,
The cost of drug addiction in Hong Kong can be high because:
* It is a drain on health care resources.
* It is a drain on law enforcement resources.
* Drug addiction is often associated with domestic violence.
* Money that could be spent on improving life for the family is wasted on drugs. Some individuals will spend a small fortune on feeding their habit while their family lives on the breadline.
* The money made by selling drugs is usually used to finance other types of crime and terrorism.
* The demand for illegal drugs has led to the growth of a criminal underworld that sees high profits in supplying this product.
* Drug abuse can destroy communities. It can mean that people are afraid of leave their homes because of fear of being a victim of drug related crime.
* Drug addiction wastes human potential. Instead of the individual being an asset to their community they become a liability.
* The person who is abusing drugs will not be productive in the workforce. This means that the economy will suffer as a result.
There are a number of treatment options for those dealing with drug addiction in Hong Kong including:
* Saint John’s Counseling Service is based on Queen’s Road in Central Hong Kong, and they offer help and advice to drug users.
* Narcotics Anonymous Hong Kong offers a twelve step program to help the individual overcome their addiction.
* Those individuals who are serious about ending their addiction are increasingly looking for recovery options further afield. Drug and Alcohol Rehab Asia is based in Thailand, and is considered to be one of the most respected treatment facilities in Asia.
* Cocaine Anonymous is another 12 Step program. This group has regular meetings on Borrett Road.
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