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July 1, 2011

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Friends' role in drug habits

FRIENDS play the biggest role in introducing local young people to drugs such as methamphetamine, ketamine and ecstasy, according to a survey released yesterday.

A Shanghai Health Bureau lecture on synthetic drugs heard peers were responsible for introducing almost 78 percent of young addicts to them.

"The influence of friends is the major factor when people first try synthetic drugs," said Xia Guomei from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and a member of the Shanghai Anti-Drug Association.

In 2010, China had 1.55 million registered drug addicts, including 432,000 synthetic drug addicts. Most synthetic drug addicts detected last year were younger than 25.

Shanghai has more than 31,000 registered drug addicts. In recent years, more than 90 percent of addicts detected in the city were addicted to synthetic drugs and more than half were under 25.

Xia's survey of local synthetic drug addicts found 64.8 percent first tried the drugs when offered by close friends, while 13 percent got them from less close friends.

"Many young people associate synthetic drugs with entertainment and fashion, meeting their demand for something fresh and exciting," said Xia.

Other experts warned of side effects. "These can lead to hypertension, strokes, paranoia and even sudden death," said Zhao Min from Shanghai Mental Health Center.


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