30pc of young users get their drugs for free

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 June, 2013, 5:22am

Seventy per cent of young people who take drugs say they have been given them for free at some stage - and half of those say this is often the case, a survey found.

Social workers were concerned that drugs may be provided free to young people as a way to lure them into addiction.

The survey - conducted by Shue Yan University and the Lions Club International Hong Kong - polled 256 people, aged 12 to 30. About half of them, 129, were drug users and the others were not.

"We believe drug users gather in groups. Those who have the means tend to buy drugs and share them with the others," said Au Wong-kwong, administration head of the university's social work department.

Seventy per cent of drug users said they had been given free drugs. And 30 per cent said drugs were always given to them for free. Others paid for drugs - 31 per cent using their wages and 24 per cent using their pocket money.

Au said youth workers had strategies in place to tackle the coming summer holiday, when young people were more likely to start using drugs. "We hope to invite them to youth activities. Social workers will be watching for any signs of drug use, but it's also important to train parents to identify this problem," he said.

Many of the young people polled saw drug use as bad behaviour. When asked how their parents would react if they took drugs at home, 78 per cent said it would be heartbreaking for them.

Seven per cent said their families wouldn't care, while 11 per cent believed their parents would report them to the police.

But Raymond Chui Chi-fai, social work assistant professor at the university, said calling the police could have a cautionary effect but may not help with rehabilitation. He suggested people instead seek help from social workers, who might be able to find ways to resolve the issues behind the drug use.