City gets fix on addicts and their habits

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-15 08:23
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City gets fix on addicts and their habits
A policeman (right) examines drugs found with 12 young people in a Shenzhen nightclub in this file photo. [Provided to China Daily]

SHENZHEN, Guangdong - The typical drug abuser in Shenzhen is a 32-year-old man, according to a survey released by the Shenzhen drug administration.

"Last year, we collected 4,899 questionnaires from the city's three drug rehabilitation centers, a discipline center and five community clinics that give out methadone, which is used as a pain reliever and as part of drug addiction detoxification. We found more than 92.8 percent of drug abusers were aged from 20 to 45," said Liu Xiaoyu from the Shenzhen drug administration, who is in charge of the survey.

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She said the survey found about 91 percent of Shenzhen's drug abusers are male and their average age is 31.8, and that 75 percent of addicts used traditional drugs such as heroin, opium, marijuana and cocaine.

"However, that doesn't mean people prefer traditional drugs to the synthetic drugs, because many of them are taking both," said Liu.

Wu Zekai, a 29-year-old social worker at Futian district's methadone clinic, said although more male addicts came to the clinic, the ratio between male and female addicts is probably closer to 80 percent and 20 percent, rather than 91 percent and 9 percent.

"More women go for synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and ecstasy," he said.

"I think there are many female drug addicts that haven't been found yet," said Wang Yongjin, who struggled with his drug addiction for 15 years.

City gets fix on addicts and their habits

The ex-drug addict said more female drug abusers can be found in entertainment venues rather than rehabilitation centers or discipline centers.

According to figures provided by the Shenzhen Anti-drug Committee, 9,136 people were caught taking drugs last year and more than 93.7 percent of them came from outside Shenzhen.

"Only 577 were local," said Luo Qing from the committee.

He also mentioned that only a small number of addicts were taking methadone when released from rehabilitation centers.

Applied in the treatment of opioid dependence, methadone usually functions as a cushion for addicts being weaned off heroin, according to Chen Xujia, a doctor with the Luohu district health bureau.

"It's very easy for those who don't come to us (for free methadone) to return to their addiction," said Chen.

But he added that many addicts are afraid to come for treatment because they will be arrested if they give their real names and addresses.

"It has even happened that the police hide next to the clinic and take our patients away," said Chen.

"There's a huge gap between the number of addicts who stay in rehabilitation centers and those who come to us. Without the proper communication with related departments such as the anti-drug committee and the police, it's very hard for us to help our patients."