Tackling Youth Drug Abuse in Hong Kong: Nurses as Educators and Caretakers
Heroin, ketamine, ice, and cannabis, to name but just a few, bear a marked similarity- a common type of drug abuse. It is a worrying trend in lowering the age of drug abusers in Hong Kong. All secondary or above levels students who were first drug-taking at aged ten or below was 10.5% while first took drugs at aged 18 and above was 8.3% in the 2014/15 Survey (Table A). Also, juveniles are easily acquired illicit and potentially dangerous substances nowadays.
James (2017) stated that the police is difficult to enforce the law because online transactions use encryption to avoid detection. Therefore, to tackle the youth drug abuse problem in Hong Kong, nurses play an essential role, as educators and caretakers, from health promotion to recovery. Besides, as a researcher, to analyze the contemporary area of substance abuse. In my opinion, an educator is the most appropriate nursing role to inhibit the severity of drug abuse.
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Drug abuse in Hong Kong
During 2017-2019, the total number of drug abusers who took single drugs and multiple drugs in Hong Kong followed a downtrend, falling to 5522 persons (Figure B1). Nevertheless, despite an improvement in the overall situation, the drug abuse problem among youths aged under 21 has remained unchanged. Single drug abusers were around 80%, and multiple drug abusers were around 20% (Figure B2).
Analyzed by the type of drugs, the number of abusers of ice and cocaine accounted for 43.5% and 36.1%, respectively, in 2016. City University of Hong Kong (2008) mentioned that the relationship between the cost of cocaine and its prevalence in which the price is dropping, low-income youngsters can easily obtain it. By contrast, the number of abusers of ketamine slumped from 23% in 2016 to 9.7% in 2019 upon enhanced enforcement action (Table C). Narcotics Division, Security Bureau (2011) showed that drug trafficking of ketamine over 1000 grams would sentence to imprisonment for 14 years or above.
Analyzed by reasons for taking drugs, young abusers aged below 21 indicated ‘peer influence’ as the most major cause with 56%, followed by ‘relief of boredom/ depression/stress’ with 42% (Figure D).
Familial and individual risk factors may conduce the onset of drug abuse in youngsters. Childhood maltreatment is classified as a familial factor. Child abuse or neglect that results in physical or emotional harm. It reflects the caretaker’s failure of role obligation and leads to an estranged parent-child relationship. Whitesell, Bachand, Peel, and Brown (2013) noted that adolescents who experienced molestation increased the risk of participating in substance use from two to four times. Moreover, the personality feature of individuals at risk of exposure to drugs. Students who had admonitions or even major demerits that make prominent break the rules and be acquisitive of the sense of achievement impetuously. Swadi (1999) claimed that people with disobedient and impulsive had a high chance of early use of illicit drugs.
Drug abusers bring on individual and social impacts. In physical impact, body systems are becoming deterioration. Chu et al. (2007) mentioned that urinary tract abnormalities and contracted bladder were discovered by ketamine abusers. Drug abusers need to maintain an adequate dosage of drugs to maintain a normal physiological state due to physiological dependence. If they lose control of a drug overdose, it will increase harm to body organs. Yuen (2001) showed that ketamine poisoning influences neurological systems and that rhabdomyolysis and schizophrenia may occur. Also, psychological dependence happens in withdrawal, which leads to depression or irritability. Moreover, once they become addicted, they may break the law and ask for money to buy drugs that cause serious social problems.
Drug abusers become younger, diversify with multiple psychotropic substances, and involve severe sequelae; those are the traits of the drug abuse problem in Hong Kong. Nurses, as a professional, can become members to educate, research relevant studies and look after drug abusers. One of the nursing roles is the educator for health promotion and prevention. Educators provide information to people that increase their awareness of substance abuse and arouse them to make informed decisions actively about their health. Kelly and Byrne (2006) stated that they reduce morbidity and premature mortality by identifying at the initial stage or improving health to prevent disease. Therefore, education may alter people’s attitudes and behaviors to help them realize a healthy lifestyle. Also, the researcher works in a clinical or academic setting.
Hardicre (2013) claimed that research nurses involve investigative studies and establish the protocol. To set up the clinical trials, they need to visit trial participants and notify the primary caregiver of the patient’s suitability or conflict with the plan. Then, data collection with analysis and summary to provide discussion for the treatment team. Therefore, research nurses give opportunities for continuous development and change of clinical practice. Furthermore, the caretaker takes care of in-patients for rehabilitation.
Low (2003) showed that nurses have a notable role in rehabilitation that persistently exist with a patient that can look out for the patient’s condition anytime. Nurses set the goals achieved by the clients to strengthen their independence through recovery. Rehabilitation programs are provided to the clients for drug detoxification and withdrawal that assist them to return to a drug-free life. Therefore, nurses accompany clients to prevent relapse and rebuild a healthy and meaningful life.
To compare the important role of educator and caretaker, prevention is better than cure. Adolescents follow the trend by taking psychotropic substances rather than traditional drugs like heroin. Sherril (2011) pointed out that symptoms diminish when active methamphetamine withdrawal from 4 hours to 4 weeks. Without obvious withdrawal symptoms, teenagers who lack self-discipline may continue to drug-taking until detecting permanent physical damage is too late. To alleviate the number of young drug abusers, an educator for health promotion and prevention plays a pivotal role.
Educators implement various programs that reinforce the continuum of health promotion services and lessen the risk of illicit drug use. For school education, conduct a program like life skills training to timely support the students who are confused or have low resilience. Learning for drug refusal skills and effects of drug abuse. Inman, Van Bakergem, Larosa, and Garr (2011) stated that students grasp the concepts of topics first, display the capability of health-enhancing behaviors even advocate family and community attention to health through health education. This reflects the students’ increase in the knowledge of health issues and skills to resist the temptation that helps inhibit the spread of youth taking drugs.
As to caretakers taking care of in-patient in rehabilitation, one of the goals is to avoid taking drugs again when they get back to society. Witkiewitz and Marlatt (2004) claimed that people who have addictive problems participate in cognitive behavior therapy and can prevent and manage relapse. Family background and social support factors affect people’s self-efficacy, motivation, and cognition. Also, the emotional state and skills of tackling problems due to high variability so influence the chance of relapse is higher.
Caretakers guide the patients with strategies to prevent relapse effectively that can help them regain the courage to reach no longer take drugs. In sum, educators and caretakers can both ease the trend of youth drug taking, but primary prevention is the first line of defense. Ritchie (2017) mentioned that postponing the time of disease onset and declining incidence are the noteworthy impact of prevention programs. Therefore, educators can contact students earlier than caretakers, which is more productive for having prevention education to mitigate youth drug abuse problems.
Furthermore, the educator is a more appropriate role than the researcher to focus on drug abuse of adolescence in many-sided directly because of contacting many audiences. Researcher labor with multidisciplinary study teams containing physicians and pharmacists. Gibbs and Lowton (2012) showed that research studies therapy-related instigate a change in the clinical. The responsibility for screening suitable clients for research studies and acquiring consent from patients.
Also, interventions being studied need administration and guarantee studies are conducted in legislation, guidelines, and protocols. As to educators for health promotion and prevention, Hillger, Huber, and Kirch (2011) stated that professionals can impart knowledge to the public to promote prevention. Teenagers may have inadequate or misunderstanding of the legal consequences of drug crimes and the harmful of drug abuse.
Besides, teachers and parents may be different in assisting students or children early with drug use problems because without enough knowledge to identify drugs and skills of communication. Therefore, organizing in-depth programs for particularly targeted groups can identify the youths who drug abuse early with service needs. Someone calls into question the effectiveness of drug abusers making positive steps toward behavior through education. Norton (1998) claimed that people having accurate information is important in influences decisions about their behavior.
Health education can teach by teachers and parents after having lessons from educators. To clarify, drug abuse will affect their health. To sum up, patients as clinical trial subjects in research studies that the researchers have potential researchable questions related to patient care only. However, educators can contact people who surround the youths with sharing knowledge that can cooperate with teens out of their predicament. Strong cohesion is presented in educators rather than researchers. After a comparison of the three nursing roles, the educator is the most appropriate nursing role in tackling the youth drug abuse problem in Hong Kong.
To conclude, drug abusers become younger and diversify with multiple psychotropic substances are the characteristics of youth drug abuse problems. Child abuse, disobedient and impulsive character increase the risk of taking drugs. Individual and social impact may have serious consequences. Educators are the most important in tackling the problem that prevention is the frontline to avoid risks to health and solidarity people around youths to educate and recognize their condition.
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