Purpose of review: Drug abuse has resulted in a huge burden on public health and the economy in China. Since the reemergence of drug abuse in China in the 1980s, the number of drug addicts has increased dramatically, especially the proportion of users of synthetic drugs, such as amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS). Further, the proportion of opiate addicts has decreased among the new initiates. This review describes the new pattern of drug abuse and the resultant intervention strategy in China.
Recent findings: The demographics regarding drug abuse in China point to a trend of younger users, and indicate that Internet and telephone are facilitating drug trafficking. Furthermore, polydrug use is common. Many heroin addicts have used ATS and other synthetic drugs, and some synthetic drug abusers have used opiate drugs too. HIV infection and psychosis comorbidity are primarily associated with drug abuse in China.
Summary: Although opiate drug use and its associated harm have been controlled effectively in some areas, the synthetic drugs and new designer drugs have complicated the drug abuse scene. A national system of management and intervention for synthetic drugs and associated diseases urgently needs to be established in China.