Hong Kong drug addicts head to China to pop pills

By Euphoric · Oct 1, 2007 · ·
  1. Euphoric
    This is a little old, but within the year and thought it may interest some:


    Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:02pm EDT

    The ease of travel to the China mainland since Hong Kong's handover in 1997 has drawn the city's young people to a cheap and convenient playground just across the border in Shenzhen city.

    Every weekend, young people pour into Shenzhen in China's southern Guangdong province to devour cheap food, entertainment -- and illicit party drugs.

    Street drugs of all types -- cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, ketamine and methamphetamine -- are more easily available and cheaper in discotheques in southern China than in Hong Kong.

    "At first I didn't like Shenzhen because it seemed foreign and dangerous, but after a while it was very nice, a new place with new faces and we didn't get raided there," said Siu Bak, a former addict of nine years who kicked the habit in 2005.

    "It's far easier to get drugs in China. Any staff can get it for you. The security guards will just turn a blind eye or they will tell you to take them in the toilet," said Siu Bak, 24.

    Ketamine is one of the most popular party drugs now in Hong Kong and it is proving to be a disastrous health hazard.

    In a report published last week, a group of Hong Kong doctors detailed cases of bladder and kidney dysfunction in 10 ketamine addicts. Their mean age was 25, with the youngest only 18.

    Among the symptoms, the addicts' bladders were able to hold the equivalent of only two tablespoons of urine and they needed to urinate every 15 minutes.

    Ketamine, an anaesthetic for animals, has never been linked to such disorders. But street ketamine -- in the form of a white powder -- is diluted with cheap substances to fatten suppliers' profits.

    Street ketamine can include washing powder, paint flakes, talcum powder, flour, painkillers and barbiturates, said scientists who have examined the drug.

    "Some suppliers put in glass powder to give it a shine, which is a mark of high grade ketamine. They give you a nosebleed, but all ketamine does that after a while because all that snorting damages your nasal membranes," said Siu Bak, who used to use more than 30 packets of ketamine a day at the height of her addiction.

    A packet of ketamine, containing about half a teaspoon of powder, cost HK$100 (US$12.80) a few years ago but can be obtained for as little as HK$20 now.

    "These people are consuming all sorts of street ketamine, from different suppliers and we don't know what kind of contaminants they have been snorting," said Lau Fei-lung, director of the Hong Kong Poisons Information Centre, .

    "We don't know if these disorders are due to ketamine or the cutting agents," he said. "Ketamine is normally not consumed this way. It's an anaesthetic agent and there have been no studies on its effect if it is taken daily, or twice a day, for years. The effect will be different, it will be totally unpredictable."


    But these concerns hardly figure in Shenzhen's packed discos where revellers vigorously toss heads to the beat of fast music.

    Many people can go on for hours -- expending a store of energy so huge that party-goers readily admit it can only come with help from illicit drugs.

    A powerful hallucinogen containing LSD has even been named after this jerky head dance - "fing tau yun" in Cantonese, or "vigorous head-tossing pill".

    "These people from Hong Kong come to our massage parlour ... after tossing their heads all night," said a masseur in Shenzhen. "Their necks are so stiff we need to use all our strength for them to feel even a little effect. Some interrupt the massage session and snort drugs right in front of us."

    Peggy Chu, a urologist and member of the team of doctors who revealed the disorders linked to ketamine, said there were now 30 young addicts being treated for bladder damage from the drug.

    "We used traditional drugs to relax their bladders but they are not working and we are trying new drugs. But treating them is very difficult and complicated because none of them have given up ketamine. They say they have stopped but when I check their urine, I still detect ketamine," Chu said.

    "One of them who had an operation to enlarge the bladder has even shifted to cocaine. In the worst case, they may end up with renal failure and require dialysis and even a kidney transplant."

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  1. enquirewithin
    There is some truth in this article. Hong Kong teenagers certainly go to Shenzen to take drugs. There have been a few cases of urinary problems wit heavy ketamine users but nor many. "Street ketamine" is certainly cut as elsewhere.The above quote is utterly wrong-- "fing tau yun" is ecstasy or MDMA.
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