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Anti-drug Drive Gathers Momentum

Albano Carrisi, famous Italian singer and UN anti-drug ambassador, has been invited to bring his message to social workers in Shanghai City as part of a major campaign.

Carrisi's schedule has yet to be set.

An anti-drug education campaign started last week and will run through June 26.

The latest statistics from the Shanghai Municipal Anti-drug Commission pegged the number of registered drug users in the city at 17,000. Of them, 54 percent are under the age of 35.

The number is an increase, but the most troublesome part is that the proportion of young drug users is growing fastest, said the commission's Li Jian.

As in other countries, young people in Shanghai, curious and sometimes innocent, are vulnerable to drugs.

Recent studies attributed growing drug use among young people to rising pressure from competition and the ever-increasing pace of their social life.

That's especially true for unemployed people or school drop-outs.

According to Li, in the next three years the Shanghai municipal government plans to keep the number of drug addicts within 20,000, raise the rate of drug addicts who have stayed clean for three years to 20 percent, and put all drug addicts under control.

China has paid a lot of attention to anti-drug education among young people since 1997.

Measures have been taken to reinforce anti-drug education.

Anti-drug education is reinforced among the younger generation, from primary school pupils to college students.

Three social organizations -- the Sunshine Community Youth Service Center, Xinhang Social Work Center and Shanghai Self-reliant Social Services Center -- have been established to participate in the anti-drug action.

At least 130 social workers have been trained for anti-drug programs in four trial districts since August last year.

They regularly test urine from drug addicts and provide preventive education and job training.

As a result, the refusal rate in the four trial districts has reached 3.1 percent, much higher than in many other countries. Some 1,000 registered drug addicts have given up drugs for three continuous years.

More than 200,000 anti-drug publications and 1,600 anti-drug preventive educational CD-ROMs for youth have been distributed in Shanghai communities, schools, railway and bus stations, airports and other places where migrant workers often gather.

"Anti-drug activity should first be developed among young people. With the help of social forces, we hope more people will take part in the anti-drug preventive activities. It also helps reduce crimes caused by drug use," Li said.

(China Daily June 8, 2004)

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