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Drug abuse and drug situation in Hong Kong in 2021
     The Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) has noted the figures of the Central Registry of Drug Abuse (CRDA) and relevant drug figures for the whole year of 2021. The ACAN noticed that the total numbers of reported drug abusers, reported young drug abusers and young people arrested for drug offences registered increases in 2021.
     Figures from the CRDA revealed that the total number of reported drug abusers in 2021 increased by 4 per cent (from 5 776 to 6 019) compared with that in 2020. This increase was mainly driven by the rising number of reported drug abusers aged under 21, which increased by 44 per cent (from 607 to 873) compared with that in 2020 and accounted for 15 per cent of the total number of reported drug abusers in 2021. The three most common types of drugs abused in 2021 were heroin, methamphetamine (commonly known as "Ice") and cocaine while the three most popular types among young drug abusers aged under 21 were cannabis, cocaine and ketamine (commonly known as "K"). The number of newly reported drug abusers in 2021 increased by 24 per cent (from 1 596 to 1 979) compared with that in 2020.
     The ACAN noticed that more people (especially youngsters) were reported to abuse cocaine and cannabis. The numbers of reported cocaine abusers and cannabis abusers in 2021 increased by 47 per cent (from 727 to 1 071) and 33 per cent (from 749 to 994) respectively, compared with those in 2020. For the same period, the number of reported young cocaine abusers aged under 21 increased by 85 per cent (from 209 to 387) while the number of reported young cannabis abusers went up by 48 per cent (from 326 to 483).
     According to the figures from law enforcement agencies, the number of persons arrested for drug offences in 2021 increased by 20 per cent (from 3 849 to 4 634) compared with that in 2020. For the same period, the number of young arrestees aged under 21 increased by 32 per cent (from 514 to 678), and cannabis was the main drug involved.
     The ACAN Chairman, Dr Donald Li, said that although the local drug abuse and drug situation are generally under control, with the relevant numbers having decreased sharply when compared with those many years ago, the community needs to be always on alert, especially in view of the rising number of reported young drug abusers in recent years and the different factors that have dulled their vigilance against cannabis, which is a drug. In addition, Dr Li is concerned about the impact brought by the epidemic. He said, "The COVID-19 epidemic is changing rapidly and brings stress of various degrees to members of the public. However, drug abuse is never a proper way of coping with stress. By taking drugs, one will only get into deep trouble and seriously harm his or her health. Under the epidemic, it is all the more necessary to adopt a healthy lifestyle, relieve stress in a healthy manner, and resist the temptation of drugs firmly."
     The website of the Narcotics Division (ND) (www.nd.gov.hk) contains rich information about drugs, including frequently asked questions about cocaine, cannabis, etc. For seeking information or assistance from social workers, members of the public can also make use of instant messaging applications WhatsApp and WeChat by sending messages to 98 186 186, or call the 24-hour hotline 186 186. They are also reminded that amid the epidemic, they should not fall prey to drug syndicates with the hope of making quick money, such as taking part in transporting drugs or receiving "drug parcels", since this will ruin a person's future. The ND will, in collaboration with the relevant government departments and non-governmental organisations, continue to step up publicity and education efforts as well as law enforcement work so as to combat drugs and help the public understand the harm caused by drugs and the serious consequences of committing drug offences.
     The CRDA figures for the whole year of 2021 are available on the website of the ND (www.nd.gov.hk/en/index.html). The comparison between figures for 2021 and 2020 might have been affected by the COVID-19 situation and therefore requires careful analysis. Due to the epidemic, reporting agencies might have come into contact with fewer drug abusers during the relevant periods, and might have needed more time to report information of drug abusers to the CRDA.
Ends/Thursday, March 31, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:00
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