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Drug abuse continues to show declining trend (with photos)

     The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) at its quarterly meeting today (December 14) reviewed the drug situation in the first three quarters of 2012. According to the latest figures of the Central Registry of Drug Abuse, the total number of reported drug abusers and young drug abusers under 21 recorded a decrease when compared to the same period in the last year.

     The total number of reported drug abusers dropped by 5.1% (from 9,748 to 9,248) and the number of reported young drug abusers under 21 was 18.4% lower (from 1,664 to 1,357), when compared to the same period in 2011. There was also a 11.6% drop (from 2,587 to 2,286) in the number of newly reported drug abusers.

     The total number of psychotropic substance abusers (5,307) reported in the first three quarters of this year was higher than the number of reported narcotic analgesics abusers (5,039).

     Among all reported drug abusers, heroin remained the most popular type of drug abused. However, there was a decline of 1.5% (from 5,111 to 5,033) in the number of reported heroin abusers compared to the same period last year.

     Ketamine remained the most popular type of psychotropic substance abused. The number of reported ketamine abusers dropped by 14.8% (from 3,102 to 2,644), of whom 30.9% were aged under 21.

     The number of reported abusers of most of other types of psychotropic substances dropped. Nevertheless, there was a rise of 8.0% and 2.0% respectively in the number of reported ice abusers and cocaine abusers.

     The ACAN Chairman, Professor Daniel Shek, was pleased to see the continued declining trend in the local drug situation. However, he expressed concern about the increasingly hidden nature of drug abuse.

     Professor Shek said, "Consumption of psychotropic substances, which are prevalent among young drug abusers, is not easily noticeable. Serious or even irreversible effects on the health of the drug abusers may result after prolonged consumption. Hence, early identification of youths troubled by drugs and offering them appropriate assistance are very important.

     "The ACAN and the Narcotics Division will continue efforts in promoting increased vigilance in the community against the problem of young people abusing drugs at home, raising parental awareness and encouraging them to play an active role in drug prevention, early identification and intervention."

     The Commissioner for Narcotics, Mrs Erika Hui, said that it was encouraging to see the continued improvement in the local drug situation. However, she stressed that the Administration would not slacken its anti-drug efforts. The Government would continue to closely monitor drug trends, adopt relevant measures and enhance publicity efforts to address the drug problems.

     Noting the developing trend of hidden youth drug abuse, Mrs Hui said a number of measures had been implemented to address the problem. She said, "We have launched two Announcements in the Public Interest to encourage hidden young drug abusers to seek help early, and to highlight the important role of parents and the public in anti-drug work. In addition, we have enhanced the anti-drug telephone service '186 186' to provide 24-hour service for those who need to obtain drug information or seek help from professional social workers. We will continue to enhance our work in this area."

     Mrs Hui noted that the Government would also continue to reinforce understanding of the harmful effects of drugs. "In view of the increase in the number of reported cocaine abusers recently, we have produced a new poster to highlight the harmful effects of abusing cocaine and to dispel the misconception that abusing cocaine is not addictive," she said.

     With Christmas and New Year around the corner, the Government is stepping up anti-drug publicity efforts and law enforcement actions.

     After the ACAN meeting today, Professor Shek and Mrs Hui, together with ACAN members; the Commander of the Police Central District, Mr Kwok Yam-shu; the Chairman of Central and Western District Council, Mr Yip Wing-shing; and the Chairman of Central and Western District Fight Crime Committee, Mr Ng Siu-keung, distributed anti-drug publicity materials to bar patrons and passers-by in Lan Kwai Fong in Central, appealing to the public, particularly youngsters, to remain vigilant and stay away from drugs during the festive holidays.

     In addition to today's publicity event, the Narcotics Division, the Police and different organisations will organise anti-drug publicity and education activities in various districts in the coming weeks. Law enforcement agencies will also intensify their efforts against drug trafficking and drug abusing activities, including strengthening the patrol of targeted drug abuse black spots and adopting various measures at land boundary control points to curb cross-boundary drug abuse.

Ends/Friday, December 14, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:19


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