Shenzhen tackles its drug problem

Cam MacMurchy , June 18, 2011 7:00pm

Shenzhen is known as a migrant city, or “Overnight City”, as told by Peter Hessler in his excellent book Oracle Bones. In fact, many parts of Oracle Bones are situated in Shenzhen, and describe the challenges migrants face when they leave their villages, which are structured heavily by families, to become nameless, faceless factory workers in a large, cosmopolitan city.

It’s not surprising then that many turn to substance abuse. The China Daily recently ran a feature article looking at the drug problem in Shenzhen. It’s worth a read for anybody who’s interested in the city. Here is an excerpt:

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.

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.

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.

With so many migrants, that last stat is not surprising. You can read the full article here.