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Drug culture spreading among Chinese youth

  • Source: Global Times
  • [00:33 December 24 2009]
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Editor's Note:

The use of "designer drugs," such as methamphetamine, ecstasy and ketamine, is becoming more common in China. Users are getting younger and more diverse.

Global Times (GT) reporter Wu Huaiting interviewed Han Dan (Han), associate professor at the Department of Sociology, Jiangsu Administration Institute, on how to deal with this influx of designer drugs. Han has conducted research into drug use and AIDS risks in China.

GT: What are new drugs? Why are they more dangerous than traditional ones?

Han: Unlike traditional drugs such as opium and heroin, designer drugs refer to artificially synthesized hallucinogens and stimulants, like methamphetamine (known as meth or ice), ecstasy and ketamine.

These drugs have a direct effect on the human central nervous system, and continuous use can lead to addiction. Traditional drugs are physiologically addictive, but designer drugs tend to create psychological addictions instead.

The public still does not know much about designer drugs. Many consider them just as another class of consumer goods, but one that can get them high.

There is also a lot of misinformation, such as claims that ecstasy and ketamine are helpful with losing weight or improving sexual function.

This false information legitimizes the use of the drugs and lulls young people into thinking that drugs are not dangerous or habit-forming. As a result, the population of drug users is increasing.

In fact, the addiction potentials of designer drugs is strong. In addition to heavy potential for psychological addiction, physiological changes are also highly possible after long-term use of new drugs.

These drugs stimulate neurotransmitters and cause the release of excessive amounts of dopamine, resulting in feelings of happiness.

Side effects can include acute toxicity, irreversible damage to nervous system, and possibly lead to schizophrenia and other relevant neurological diseases.

Generally speaking, using new drugs for one month is enough to cause such consequences.

Moreover, the treatment of addiction for designer drugs is different from traditional methods. Due to the strong physiological addiction potentials of heroin, replacement therapy is widely used in rehab, substituting less harmful substances such as methadone.

However, since new drugs mainly cause neurological and psychological damage, neurologists or psychiatrists are needed.

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