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Total number of reported drug abusers declines but drug abuse problem among young adults requires attention

     The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) at its quarterly meeting today (June 17) reviewed the local drug situation in the first quarter of 2016. Members noted that the local drug situation had continued to improve. Both the total number of reported drug abusers and the total number of reported young drug abusers had decreased compared to the figures for the same period in 2015. Meanwhile, the drug abuse problem among young adults still required attention.  

     According to the latest figures of the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA), the total number of reported drug abusers in the first quarter of 2016 decreased by 28 per cent (from 3,296 to 2,389), as compared to that in the same period last year. The number of newly reported drug abusers also decreased by 38 per cent (from 620 to 385). However, over half (55 per cent) of these abusers were in young adulthood (aged 21 to 35), reflecting that the drug abuse problem in this age group warrants particular attention.

     The number of reported drug abusers aged under 21 decreased by 50 per cent (from 298 to 148), while the number of those newly reported decreased by 40 per cent (from 141 to 85).

     The latest CRDA figures also showed that the hidden drug abuse problem had remained a concern. The median drug history of newly reported abusers (i.e. the time for abusers to be discovered by the CRDA reporting agencies from their first drug abuse) was 4.9 years, compared with 5.8 years in 2015.

     At the meeting, Members also reviewed other local drug-related figures in the first quarter of 2016 compared to those in the same period in 2015.

     In the first quarter of 2016, the number of reported narcotic analgesic abusers decreased by 19 per cent (from 1,677 to 1,353), while that of psychotropic substance abusers decreased by 35 per cent (from 1,957 to 1,276). The former number was slightly higher than the latter.

     Heroin remained the most common type of drug abused among all reported drug abusers. However, the total number of reported heroin abusers decreased by 19 per cent (from 1,676 to 1,352).

     Methamphetamine ("ice") continued to surpass ketamine as the most common type of psychotropic substance abused. Nevertheless, the total number of reported "ice" abusers decreased by 29 per cent (from 740 to 526), while that of reported ketamine abusers decreased by 58 per cent (from 832 to 349).

     The total numbers of reported abusers of all other major types of psychotropic substances also recorded reductions: cocaine decreased by 40 per cent (from 231 to 138), cannabis decreased by 33 per cent (from 126 to 85), cough medicine decreased by 17 per cent (from 117 to 97) and triazolam/midazolam/zopiclone decreased by 6 per cent (from 283 to 265).

     The ACAN Chairman, Dr Ben Cheung, said, "Despite the downward trend of the number of reported drug abusers, we shall not slacken our anti-drug work, particularly in addressing the problems of hidden drug abuse and the relatively high proportion of drug-abusing young adults. Young adults falling prey to drugs would have to face many practical problems in respect of work, living expenses and relationships with family members. This will require concerted efforts of the Government, the anti-drug sector and the community in formulating appropriate measures to identify the drug abusers and encourage them to seek help early."

     The Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Manda Chan, said, "The Government will continue to work closely with ACAN to step up anti-drug initiatives under the five-pronged strategy, namely preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, legislation and law enforcement, external co-operation and research. This will include the launch of a new set of television and radio Announcements in the Public Interest to encourage staying away from drugs and urge people in need to seek help early. Related publicity and advertisements disseminating anti-drug messages will be strengthened on public transportation networks, in entertainment venues, on popular websites, on social media and in applications for mobile devices during the summer holidays. We will continue to encourage young people to resist drugs by adopting a healthy lifestyle. There will also be ongoing promotion of the 24-hour help-seeking helpline 186 186, and the instant messaging service 98 186 186."

     The CRDA figures for the first quarter of 2016 are available on the Narcotics Division's website (

Ends/Friday, June 17, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:32


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