Teen drug use in Hong Kong is ‘on the rise’, according to survey

Teen drug use in Hong Kong is ‘on the rise’, according to survey

A recent survey by Action Committee Against Narcotics (Acan) has 'sounded the alarm' that a review of anti-drug strategy is needed

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Teenagers may think cannabis is less harmful than other drugs.
Photo: ISD

Youth drug use could be on the rise in Hong Kong, according to a survey by the Action Committee Against Narcotics (Acan).

The findings of the research project, the 2017/18 Survey of Drug Use among Students, show the number of students claiming to have used drugs has gone up by 23 per cent compared to the poll three years earlier. The survey, commissioned by the city’s Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau, is conducted every three years.

The Acan also warned of hidden drug use, as the results showed “more than 80 per cent of drug-taking students indicated that they had never sought help from others as they mostly did not consider themselves addicted”.

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Professor Samson Tse Shu-ki, of the department of social work and social administration at the University of Hong Kong, said the survey has “sounded the alarm” and a review of anti-drug strategy is needed.

Tse pointed out the survey was carried out in schools while the students were active and the response rate was around 30 to 40 per cent, which is normal for similar projects. “There is reason to believe it [drug use among teenagers] is under reported,” he told Young Post.

He said he is concerned by the increase in cannabis use. The proportion of cannabis use among respondents has grown from 59 per cent to 76 per cent compared to the previous report.

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“Places such as Canada legalised [cannabis] and we can see a global change. The survey confirms Hong Kong is affected,” he said. “Why it is becoming more popular is may be because they have the impression it is ‘less harmful’, especially compared to [drugs like] methamphetamine [ice] or ketamine … publicity about their negative health effects is very clear and effective.”

He supported the education efforts so far, calling them suitable, but he believes the data shows the drug landscape is changing.

“Cannabis use should be the new main focus and there needs to be clear messaging,” Tse said. “The problem needs to be tackled squarely and up front.”

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Drug use ‘on the rise’

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