Drugs and society

Offer semester
2nd semester

Lecture time
Thursday 18:30 – 21:20

Lecture venue

Course description

All along drugs is an integral part of the history of Hong Kong, entwined to many aspects of our society. From opium to psychotropic substances, the types of substances being abused and the patterns of abuse have continuously been changing, and adapting to the specific circumstances of the society. Exploring why people pick up the habit, why they desist or persist, and how it inter-relates to our society, and in particular, how they impact on the explanability of criminological theories and how abusers perceive treatment, may allow students gaining a deeper understanding of drug-related issues in the contemporary society. Through the sharing of law enforcement agents, social workers, clinical psychologists, and possibly the abusers, including the visit of a rehabilitation service would enhance students’ comprehension of the complexity of the problem.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students who have derived the best of the learning opportunities should be able to:

  •  Identify and critically discuss the range of concepts and explanations from the criminological, sociological and psychological perspectives in the understanding of drugs and drug-using behaviour
  • Appreciate the conceptualization and measurement of drug use
  • Critically discuss the impact of drugs on the individual and society
  • Demonstrate understanding of the relationships between drugs and crime
  • Able to comprehend and analyze the treatment modalities in redressing drug use
  • Demonstrate the ability to tease out and analyze issues in the regulation of drug use


Pre-course portfolio of 1000 words on specified topic10%
Seminar presentation on specified topic (group)10%
Two individual portfolios (each 1000 words) on reflection of guest speakers’ sharing 10% each20%
Post-visit observation report of 1000 words to rehabilitation centre10%
Group presentation30%
Group report on group presentation10%

Required reading

  1. Abadinsky, Howard (2018). Drug use and abuse: a comprehensive introduction (9th). Boston, MA.: Cengage Learning.
  2. Coomber, Ross; McElrath, Karen; Measham, Fiona and Moore, Karenza (2017). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. London: SAGE.
  3. Glen, Hanson; Venturelli, Peter and Fleckenstein, Annette (2018). Drugs and Society (13th). Burlington, MA.: Jones & Bartlett Learning Publishers.
  4. Narcotics Division, Security Bureau (2021). Three-year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2021-2023). Hong Kong: Security Bureau.

Recommended reading

  1. Security Bureau (2020). Central Registry of Drug Abuse Sixty-ninth Report (2010-2019). Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.
  2. Action Committee Against Narcotics (2019). Key Findings of the Public Opinion Survey on 2018 Anti-drug Publicity Measures. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.
  3. Bean, Philip (2014). Drugs and Crime. (4th). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
  4. Cheung, Yuet Wah and Cheung Wai Ting Nicole (2019). “Adolescent Drug Abuse in Hong Kong: Prevalence, Psychosocial Correlates, and Prevention”, in Journal of Adolescent Health, Vol.64(6), pp.S28-S33.
  5. Home Office (2020). Drug Misuse in England and Wales: Year ending March 2020. London: Office for National Statistics.

Course co-ordinator and teachers