Due to the seriousness of drugs abuse and the governments’ serious concern on drug test in school, this research investigates the views on the reasons of drugs abuse and rehabilitation among teenagers in Hong Kong. A questionnaire is collected from 109 teenagers aged from 13 to 22. It focuses on the teenagers’ opinion and knowledge about drugs abuse and rehabilitation.
The findings show that teenagers mostly know the condition of drugs abuse in Hong Kong, as well as its effect on drug abusers. Apart from the cognition on drugs abuse, the reasons and the ways of drugs abuse are also known well. However, it leads a question – “Why do teen drug abusers still take drugs even if they know the effect of drug abuse?” It is believed that there are some external and internal influences which are strongly affecting those teen drug abusers. Besides, the HKSAR government should take some actions to deal with such serious problem and provide help to those drug abusers.
Drug abuse is always a popular problem discussing everywhere, and now it is being more and more serious among teenagers in Hong Kong. According to the Hong Kong Legislative Council Secretariat, the number of reported drug abusers has gradually increased from 13252 to 14175 between 2006 and 2008 and there are excess one third of drug abusers with ages lower than 25 in 2008 (Legislative Council Secretariat 2009). It is a worrying condition towards our society.
After looking into the problem, it is found that there are lots of factors which make a person falling into the trap of drug abuse. The major reasons of youth to be drug abuse included peer influence (to identify with peers), curiosity, relief of boredom/depression/anxiety, seeking euphoria or sensory satisfaction, and avoiding discomfort of its absence (Legislative Council Secretariat 2009). It seems that the problem cannot be totally solved by suppressing drug traffic only.
At the recent period, due to the seriousness of drug abuse in school, HKSAR government tries to introduce schools’ drug test in TaiPo district. It aims at finding out the teen drug abusers who want to get help from others. After the first stage of the plan, Government claims that it is effective on building a no drugs environment inside school, and wants to introduce this plan towards whole Hong Kong. However, this plan is criticized that it does not have complete supporting measures to help those teen drug abusers (China News 2010).
It needs not to be doubt that dealing with the problem of drug abuse is a long-term plan. The reasons and factors must be fully understand before establish the scheme which really can help those teen drug abusers. Otherwise, drug abuse will turn into an endless problem in Hong Kong.
Our purpose is to examine the reasons of drugs abuse and rehabilitation among teenagers in Hong Kong. The survey was conducted at HKUSPACE campus, as well as the internet. A total number of 109 questionnaires were collected within October. We had randomly selected teenagers aged from 13 to 22 as our respondents.
Since the survey has been conducted at HKUSPACE campus, therefore, the data is mainly collected from university students and senior students (see figure 1.1).
As the same reason as above, due to the place where the survey takes part, our respondents mostly belong to the group of age from 19 to 22 (see figure 1.2). It may also show that most of our respondents are big enough to understand the content of survey, which can help the accuracy of the survey results.
The questionnaire mainly focuses on the teenagers’ opinion and knowledge about drugs abuse and rehabilitation. There are also some questions which ask about the condition of drugs abuse in Hong Kong. It helps to understand whether teenagers are paying close attention to their environment. Moreover, teenagers may not tell the truth on some questions. For example, they may not tell truly whether they know any their friends or classmates have taken drugs, since they may afraid that they will get trouble if they answer “yes”. Therefore, those type of questions are treated as reference material only which help to analyze the results.
Beside the survey, the information is also collected from internet and printed books. Due to the variety of source, internet is a great platform to search for a large amount of information. Inside the books, more accurate and detailed information can be found. Those are the reasons that why internet and books are chosen to be the database of the research.
Teenagers Views on the Reasons of drug abuse
Introduction to Drug Abuse
Defined by the WHO (World Health Organization) a ‘Drug’ can be any substance, which can enter a living organism and modify one or more of its functions. If the drugs are used for purposes other than the prescribed recommendation, it can be called Drug Abuse. The various names for Drug abuse are Drug dependence, Harmful drug use, and Psychoactive substance use disorder (Medindia).
Addiction is ordinarily defined as the continuous, compulsive usage of a drug despite the user and the society may cause physical or psychological harm (Vivek).
Drug abuse is not totally the responsibility of the drug addict. The main factor is drugs itself contain addictive chemical that doesn’t let you withdrawal from them (Peloski).
The effects caused by drug abuse can be divided into three main parts: Physical, Psychological and Social effects. Higher Risk of contracting infectious disease, Loss of consciousness and ruin relationships with peers or family can be the possible examples (Youth Mental Health Promotion Programme).
Our topic is the teenagers’ views on the reason of drug abuse. However, teenagers may not know the real case in the adult society. Therefore, to be more realistic, the survey is conducted by asking their views on the factors of youth drug abusers and here is the result:
Regarding the result of questionnaire, Figure 2.1, peer pressure and curiosity are the main reasons of taking drugs which are voted by 68 and 66 out of 109 respondents respectively. Majority of respondents believed that peer pressure is the main reason. It is because peers heavily influence the choice of taking drugs (Rea and Curtis 2008). Teenagers care about their image and also are worried about what others think about themselves. Therefore teenagers will force themselves to do something to fit in with the group. If one’s peers have drugs abuse, the teenager who does not take drugs will be labeled as “outdated” and be isolated from them. As the result, they take drugs in order to remain or become a member of a group.
The second highest rated reason in our statistics is curiosity. Teenagers are curious and eager to seek new experiences. They also like to know the facts, tastes and feelings of taking drugs so that they may ask questions about how to use drugs and then join peers who are using drugs (Ava 2010). These teenagers are not forced by others but themselves. This factor always drives teenagers to try the first drugs.
Voted by 45 out of the 109 teenagers, the reason of lack of attachment to parents scores rank three in the statistics. Moreover, another reason, having chaotic home environment, also related to problem of family scoring rank four with 41 respondents. One of the most common reasons of drug abuse is exactly Family problems (Davidson 2010). This situation is occurred frequently especially in younger generations (Davidson 2010). Since they may not have the authority to vocalize at home and they don’t know what they can do, they may try to use drugs to forget about the pains and hardships that they are going through in their families (Davidson 2010). However, taking drugs cannot avoid occurrence of the problems (Melinda Smith, M.A., and Joanna Saisan 2010). Drugs may bring you a better feeling in short-term, but you will still be low self-esteem, anxiety, loneliness, or unhappy in family life in long-term. The effects and problems caused in physical, psychological and social by drug abuse may be excess the original problem that you are escaping from (Melinda Smith, M.A., and Joanna Saisan 2010).
From the above results, reasons of teenagers taking drugs can be separated into three factors which are community, personal and family factors (Rea and Curtis 2008).
Moreover, our statistics on the reasons of taking drugs are coinciding to the information from Hong Kong Legislative Council Secretariat. The major reasons are peers influence, curiosity and relief of anxiety from family problems.
Rehabilitation of Drug Abuse
Nowadays rehabilitation programs
Because of new knowledge about drug abuse, additional and comprehensive treatment methods have been developed. Identifying addicted individual and prevention of drug dependence are more focused in rehabilitation programs. Treatment programs seem to be specialized to different methods for different populations, such as adolescents, adults, individuals and groups. Moreover, programs make use of a variety of therapy agents, for example, doctors, nurses, psychologists, recovering addicts or social workers (Sussman & Ames 212).
Figure 2.2.1: A therapy process flow chart from Sussman and Ames (2001).
Key fundamentals of rehabilitation for adolescents and emerging adults
Brannign, Schackman, Falco, & Millman (cited in Sussman & Ames 219), created a list of nine key fundamentals of effective drug abuse treatment for adolescents. First, program should include extensive assessments covering psychological and medical issue, learning disabilities, family functioning, and other fields of the teenagers’ lives. Second, program should deal with all angles of teenagers’ lives, for instance, family, school, and social activities. Third, Parents are necessary to be involved in the program. Forth, developmental differences between adults and teenagers should be considered. Fifth, the program should establish a climate of believe, which is a significant element to engage teenagers in treatment. Sixth, the treatment staff should equip with knowledge of adolescent development, co morbidity issues, and substance abuse. Seventh, the program should be able to handle the different needs of teenagers. Eighth, program should include aftercare plans. Finally, program should also include rigid appraisals for enforcing treatment services.
Erickson (cited in Sussman & Ames 223) stated that harm reduction emphasizes to understand a personal’s ability to regulate his or her behavior. The common concept of harm reduction is to alleviate harmful consequence of substances dependence and diminish individual’s risk of harm to self or others (Duncan et. al., Marlatt, Somers, & Tapert, Pentz, Sussman, & Newman, cited in Sussman & Ames 223). For example, using methadone instead of abusing drugs is being used as a harm reduction program in Hong Kong. This treatment is called methadone treatment which aims to encourage drug abusers to case substance abuse and avoid the spreading of contagious disease like AIDS during injection.
General Rehabilitation in Hong Kong
According to the information provided from Narcotics Division, Security Bureau, Hong Kong has offered different types facilities and programs to different drug abuser. Basically, counseling program which have medical support service and help to buy psychotropic medicine and residential drug rehabilitation program are provided to psychotropic substances Abusers. For heroin abuser, as same as psychotropic substances Abusers, government also have counseling program and especially offer a Out-patient Methadone Treatment Program assisting these abuser to rehabilitate with the help of social worker and psychologist.
Moreover, the service and program mentioned above are voluntary to join as the cornerstone of rehabilitation are the abuser themselves.
Apart from Hong Kong government, Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers is one of the famous rehabilitation centers. It has a program just for female or teenagers. They aim to help drug abuser to rebuild their life span and a normal family life.
In addition, the person who is sentenced or in prison are compulsory to have placement scheme hold by Hong Kong Corrections Services.
Rehabilitation for teenager in Hong Kong
Teenager may be a group of being drug addicted easily because of curiosity. Actually, the HKSAR have conducted many research about the problem of teen drug abuse and the method of prevention and rehabilitation, such as The 2008/09 Survey of Drug Use among Students which to recognize the student’s knowledge and attitude of drug abuse. The newest is The Fifth Three-year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2009 – 2011) to investigate which drug treatment and rehabilitation services should use in next three year.
Except the government department, some voluntary organization or private rehabilitation center also have rehabilitation programs. Zheng Sheng College organized by Christian Zheng Sheng Association Limited is one of the organizations helping the teenager who had been drug abuser. During the period of treatment, social workers and psychologist play an important role. They improve the patient’s psychological health as their cure to help them to return a normal life.
In this research, we mainly analyze the views on the reasons of drugs abuse and rehabilitation among teenagers in Hong Kong. The survey has shown their basic knowledge of drugs abuse and collected their opinions on rehabilitation. Through the questionnaire, we know that whether teenagers understand the reasons of taking drugs and the ways to get drugs. We also find out that whether teenagers know the needs when a drug abuser is under recovery treatment, or if they feel acceptable if a rehab center is located near them.
According to the survey, teenagers mostly think that peer pressure and curiosity are the main reasons of drugs abuse, after that follow the chaotic home environment, lack of attachment to parents, aggression and having fun. It is believed that they agree peers heavily influence the choice of taking drugs, as well as excitement seeking. Besides, they can understand that drugs abuse can be related to problem of family. For example, drug abuser may want to use drugs to forget about the pains and hardships.
Since drugs abuse becomes a serious long term problem nowadays, several recommendations on how government can provide helps are given and discussed in the next.
After investigating the respondents’ views on the reasons of drug abuse and rehabilitation, there are several recommendations, which could be beneficial in helping teenagers to avoid and deal with drug abuse in order to obtain a more healthy life.
Preventing Drug Abuse
Drug abuse can be prevented by clearing up the factors which may deteriorate to drug abuse. Here are some recommendations on those factors:
Parents help to combat peer pressure
From the survey, more than half of respondents choose which pushed peer pressure as the highest ranked reason. In order to avoid the negative effects due to this factor, parents are recommended to pursue the following methods which are suggested by Family First Aid of the United States.
Communication: Parents should talk with teenagers regularly to understand their psychological state whether teens are depressed under peer pressure.
Having clear expectations: Parents should talk with teens about the clear expectation such as encouraging them to choose “positive” friends when they were young.
Know teenagers’ friends and their parents: Parents should know the friends’ parents to let the teenagers knowing that they are checked up sometimes by calling the friends’ parents. Furthermore, parents can also try to make their home to be an inviting place for teens. Hence, it can supervise them more easily.
The above methods are already enough for parents to prevent their child far from peer pressure.
Parents help to reduce teenagers’ curiosity
In addition to combating peer pressure, parents should also help adolescents to satisfy their curiosity. The efficiency methods are the followings.
Telling the serious effects of having drug abuse to remove their curious on drugs when teenagers are young
Helping teenagers to develop a good value and attitude to prevent drugs abuse
Teaching the right way for the drug use, such as obey the doctors’ order to using drugs
Warning the teenagers when they are using the drug by themselves’ decision
Above methods are helpful for teenagers to have a good habit on drug use.
Schools help to enhance the education on teenagers to prevent drug abuse
According to our survey, over 35 % of respondents select “No knowledge” about rehabilitation treatments. Beside, knowledge of drugs is also significant for teenagers. Therefore, school or education authority should take a responsibility for educating teenagers about drugs substances, prevention, and treatment. The following events can be held in order to catch teenagers’ interests:
Holding talks of ex-drug addict and
Adding the moral education to be regular lesson
Holding the some competitions about anti-drugs, such as poster and slogan competitions
Since there are many teenagers who are taking drugs are misconception on drug abuse, school education would be an important character to correct their misunderstanding.
Deal with Family Problems
Lack of concern, is a common family problems that may lead to youth drug abusers. However, Family problems are difficult to solve by teenagers, since they may not have much authority to vocalize their feelings during the explosion of emotion of their parents. Then, how to deal with family problems? It’s the responsibility of Parents that continually let the younger generation knowing you care about them (Sherman). Moreover, Teenagers could talk to them in a peace situation in order to let them have an arousal to the problems. Arousal the problems is the first step of solving them. Furthermore, According to Jacobs, there are 5 instructions for preventing and solving the conflict:
Do not react immediately, but think about the problems rationally.
Don’t say anything, if it wouldn’t help to improve the situation.
Do not gossip.
Do try the best to put family first.
Do not be antagonized by hurtful criticism.
In addiction, “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends.” said Sherman. Teenagers can extend the network of “good” friends. Social support is very important when you feel depressed and anxious. But, importantly, Do not meet the friend that may lure or even coerce you to take drugs.