Health scheme to get youngsters off party drug
HK$1.8m fund for ketamine users
Hundreds of young ketamine abusers are expected to benefit from a subsidised health-check scheme.
The aim is to get them off the drug by showing them how much damage they are causing to their bodies.
The HK$1.8 million government fund could help 300 to 400 ketamine users. Each youngster referred by the a social organisation can get a subsidy of up to HK$200 for a urine test and up to HK$500 for other tests, such as X-rays or ultrasound scans.
Ben Cheung Kin-leung, chairman of the Action Committee Against Narcotics' subcommittee on treatment and rehabilitation, said ketamine use among adolescents was now the biggest concern.
In June, four girls aged 13 and 14 were arrested for taking ketamine at Fanling Government Secondary School. A male student was arrested for allegedly supplying the drug.
Dr Cheung said the Beat Drugs Fund had a special allocation to provide health-check subsidies for young ketamine users. The project is expected to start in December and will last for two years. It will be tendered out to one or more social organisations in the next two months.
'The organisations may work with the private clinics or medical groups to provide the services to the ketamine users,' Dr Cheung said.
'We hope that once the youngsters realise how ketamine is causing their health to deteriorate, they will stop taking the drug and receive medical treatment.'
Ringo Wong, 32, said that after he was diagnosed with bladder dysfunction last year he still took ketamine - even in hospital. He became determined to kick the habit only after his condition deteriorated and he was readmitted to hospital in January because of acute renal failure.
'I was on the verge of death. I knew I really had to stop taking the drug,' Mr Wong said.
'In fact, ketamine had already spoiled almost my entire life at that time. My bladder dysfunction was so serious that I had to go to the toilet every few minutes. My whole life was revolving around going to the toilet and was totally meaningless.'
After an operation, he now mainly passes urine through tubes. But his kidney function is still poor - only about one-fifth of the normal level.
He will have another operation next month, when doctors will try to replace his blocked ureters using tissue from his intestines. But doctors say he may eventually need renal dialysis in three or four years' time.
'I thought [taking ketamine] was very trendy, so I followed my friends in doing so. But after so much suffering, I just realised how stupid I was.'