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Drug abuse is increasing among young people in Hong Kong aged under 21, while the number of students who say they have taken drugs has increased by 23%, a review of the drug situation in 2018 revealed.

The review, conducted by The Action Committee Against Narcotics’, was released on Tuesday. It showed that the total number of reported drug abusers continued to decline last year. However, signs of increased youth drug abuse, particularly of cannabis and cocaine, plus drug abuse among young adults and hidden drug abuse still require attention, a government release said.

For newly reported drug abusers, the number increased by 2% from 1,622 to 1,662. About half were young adults aged between 21 and 35 years and there was an increase in use of cocaine and cannabis among them.

Drug abuse among people aged under 21 increased by 1%, from 468 to 471 in 2018. About 60% of these young people took drugs at their own homes or at their friends’ homes only, the panel said.

According to the 2017-18 Survey of Drug Use among Students, the results showed that the number of students who claimed to have taken drugs had increased by 23% from 14,500 to 17,800 – compared to the survey conducted in 2014-15.

Cough medicine was the most common type of drug taken by upper primary students, and cannabis was the most common type of drug taken by students at secondary and post-secondary levels.

The students took drugs at their homes, or homes of their friends, schoolmates and neighbors.

Manda Chan, the Commissioner for Narcotics, said some overseas countries and regions had legalized recreational cannabis and this had led young people in Hong Kong to adopt a relatively relaxed attitude to this drug.

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