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The new pattern of drug abuse in China

Sun, Hong-qianga; Bao, Yan-pingb; Zhou, Shuang-jiangc; Meng, Shi-qiua; Lu, Lina,b

Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2014 - Volume 27 - Issue 4 - p 251–255
doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000073
ADDICTIVE DISORDERS: Edited by John B. Saunders and Linda B. Cottler

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.

aInstitute of Mental Health/Peking University Sixth Hospital

bNational Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University

cBeijing Hui-Long-Guan Hospital, Beijing, China

Correspondence to Dr Yan-ping Bao, MD, PhD, National Institute on Drug Dependence, Peking University, 38, Xue Yuan Road, Hai Dian District, Beijing 100191, China. Tel: +86 10 82802470 ext. 412; fax: +86 10 62032624; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins