I want to...

Drugs and society

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Thursday 6.30pm – 10pm

Lecture venue

Course description

Think twice before you really want to take “Drugs”!

Are you over 18? Are you sure? Did anyone force you to take it? Or you want to try? Do you have any experience in taking drugs?

Carefully consider your future ……. balance the advantages and disadvantages, though there is no examination, no in-house test……..once you took it, you may regret…..

But if you haven’t take “drugs” before, you will regret if you do not join the drug party…. and take some “drugs”….. I hope, at the end of your drug tour, you will be addicted to some way of learning, and knowledge became your drugs.

If you say YES to “Drugs”, then start the following …….


Brain-storming assignment:

First, read the following article: Approaches to Decriminalizing Drug Use & Possession (Drug Policy Alliance, 2015)


Then, try to address the question:

What do you think about the justifications behind the decriminalization of drug use? Do you agree or not this new law to be introduced into Hong Kong?

Write a portfolio of approximately 1000 words (+100 words) and submit to me on the first lecture on 6 September 2018.  This assignment challenges your mind about drugs before you come to class, and stretch your mindset as to how drugs should be managed in our society.


Background of Drugs:

The use of chemical substances to change perception of reality and to provide stimulation, relief, or relaxation has gone on for thousands of years. The opium poppy was first cultivated more than 5,000 years ago and was used by many states, among many cultures…….

In 2015 about a quarter of a billion people used drugs. Of these, around 29.5 million people – or 0.6 per cent of the global adult population – were engaged in problematic use and suffered from drug use disorders, including dependence. Opioids were the most harmful drug type and accounted for 70 per cent of the negative health impact associated with drug use disorders worldwide (World Drug Report 2017).

Growing up in Hong Kong, and in particularly you have chosen to take “drugs”, you should not be unfamiliar with drugs. In fact the history of Hong Kong starts with drugs. This course offers an overview of the origin, history, and evolvement of drugs in our society. Looking into the impact of drug abuse on both the individual and societal level, we look at how changing perceptions of drugs influenced our efforts to combating the problem and how the society responds to drug abuse. From theoretical understanding to practical intervention, Hong Kong adopts a multi-modality approach in the treatment of drug abusers. The course will invite specialists, and if possible, drug abusers, to share their experience in encountering drugs. Assessment is 100% coursework. There is no examination, but a series of assessment-based interacting activities including observational visit, group discussions, case studies, project presentation, etc. Students learnt from what they have discovered in the learning activities.

Course learning outcomes

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

  1. 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
  2. appreciate the conceptualization and measurement of drug use
  3. critically discuss the impact of drugs on the individual and society
  4. demonstrate understanding of the relationships between drugs and crime
  5. able to comprehend and analyze the treatment modalities in redressing drug use
  6. demonstrate the ability to tease out and analyze issues in the regulation of drug use


The decriminalization debate10%
Seminar presentation 10%
Individual portfolios20%
Post-visit observational report10%
Group project (presentation & report)40%

Required reading

Advice: students who do not have a social sciences first degree may wish to first take a look at Abadinsky’s chapters on the sociology and psychology of drug abuse, which gives you a brief theoretical framework from the sociological and psychological perspectives.

Remarks:   #CD-ROM (33 articles)

Peridocial / Journals


#Action Committee Against Narcotics (2011). Hong Kong Narcotics and Anti-money Laundering Report. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

#Action Committee Against Narcotics (2013). RESCUE Drug Testing Scheme Consultation Paper. Hong Kong: Information Services Department.

#Action Committee Against Narcotics (2016). The 2014/15 Survey of Drug Use among Students. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

#Action Committee Against Narcotics (2017). Key Findings of the Public Opinion Survey on 2016 Anti-drug Publicity Measures. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

#Action Committee Against Narcotics (2017). Final Research Report on Monitoring Recent Changes of Cross-Border Drug Use and Their Implications for Prevention / Control Strategies. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

#Abadinsky, Howard (2017). Drug use and abuse: a comprehensive introduction. (9th ed.). Boston, MA.: Cengage Learning. (362.290973 A11) [#Chapters 7 & 8 on Sociology and Psychology of Drug Abuse of 6th edition]

Bean, Philip and Nemitz, Teresa (Eds.) (2004).  Drug Treatment: What Works? New York: Routledge. (362.290941 D7)

Bean, Philip (2014). Drugs and Crime. (4th ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. (364.1770941 B367 d79)

Carrabine, Eamonn [et al.] (2009). Criminology: A Sociological Introduction (2nd ed.). NY: Routledge. (364 C92 C3) (also online access)

#Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (2011). A Study on Drug Abuse Among Youths and Family Relationships. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong.

#Cheung Yuet Wah (2012). A Longitudinal Survey of Psychoactive Drug Abusers in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Security Bureau.

#Clinard, Marshall and Meier, Robert (2016).  Sociology of deviant behaviour (15th ed.). Boston, MA.: Cengage Learning. (302.542 C64)  [#Chapter 8 on Drug Use and Addiction of 14th edition]

#Coomber, Ross; McElrath, Karen; Measham, Fiona and Moore, Karenza (2013). Key Concepts in Drugs and Society. London: SAGE. (362.29 K44, also online access) [#Ch.21: Drugs and Crime]

Fisanick, Christina (Ed.) (2009).  Addiction. Detroit, MI: Greenhaven Press. (362.29 A224 F52)

#Gaylord, Mark and Traver, Harold (Eds.) (1992). #“The Chinese Laundry: International Drug Trafficking and Hong Kong’s Banking Industry” in Drugs, Law and the State. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. (363.45 D79, also electronic resource)

Glen, Hanson; Venturelli, Peter and Fleckenstein, Annette (2015).  Drugs and Society (12th ed.). Burlington, MA.: Jones & Bartlett Learning Publishers. (HKU only 10th ed. in Medical Library, M 615.1 H251 d of 2009)

#Gottfredson, Denise; Kearley, Brook and Bushway, Shawn (2008) “Substance Use, Drug Treatment, and Crime: An Examination of Intra-individual Variation in a Drug Court Population” in Journal of Drug Issues, Vol.38 Issue 2: 601-630.

#Home Office (2018). Drug Misuse: Findings from the 2017/18 Crime Survey for England and Wales. London: National Statistics.

#Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics (2016). Drug Abuse Situation in Hong Kong in 2015. Hong Kong: Census and Statistics Department.

#Hua, Zhong and Lee, King Wa (2017). Monitoring Recent Changes of Cross-Border Drug Use and Their Implications for Prevention / Control Strategies. Hong Kong: Narcotics Bureau.

Kandel. Denise (Ed.) (2002).  Stages and Pathways of Drug Involvement: Examining the Gateway Hypothesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (362.29 S77 K16)

#Lau, Joseph (2013). Study on Drug Abuse Situation and Service Needs of Non-engaged Youths in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

#LegCo (2016). Anti-drug efforts in Hong Kong. LC Paper No. CB(2)1381/15-16(07) dated 3 May 2016.

#LegCo (2017). Drug Situation in Hong Kong in 2016. LC Paper No. CB(2)1138/16-17(01) dated 11 April 2017.

#LegCo (2018). Drug Situation in Hong Kong in 2017. LC Paper No. CB(2)1180/17-18(05) dated 13 April 2018.

Maguire, Mike; Morgan, Rod and Reiner, Robert (Eds.) (2012).  The Oxford handbook of criminology (5th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. (364 O98)

#Narcotics Division, Security Bureau (2018). Three-year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2018-2020). Hong Kong: Security Bureau.

#Ng, CF (2014). Prospective Longitudinal Study on the Treatment Outcomes of Various Treatment Modalities under a Standardized Treatment Protocol in Patients suffered from ketamine-induced voiding dysfunction. Hong Kong: Narcotics Bureau.

#Ng, SH; Tse, ML; Ng, HW and Lau, FL (2010). ‘Emergency Department presentation of ketamine abusers in Hong Kong: a review of 233 cases’, in Hong Kong Medical Journal, Vol 16 No.1.

#Ngai, Steven [et al.] (2015). Building Competence for Sustained Anti-Drug Work: An Integrated Humanistic and Cognitive-Behavioral Training for Practitioners and Students of Social Work and Healthcare Professions. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Petersilia, Joan and Reitz, Kevin (Eds.) (2012).  The Oxford handbook of sentencing and corrections. New York: Oxford University Press. (364.60973 O984 P48)

#Powell, Michael (2011). A Comprehensive Analysis of the Drug-Crime Relationship. Research paper No.100, Graduate School of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Rock, Paul and Downes, David (2016).  Understanding Deviance: a guide to the sociology of crime and rule-breaking (7th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. (364.2 D74)

#Saadatmand, Yassaman; Toma, Michael and Choquette, Jeremy (2012). “The War on Drugs and Crime Rates” in Journal of Business & Economics Research, Vol.10(5): 285-290.

#Security Bureau (2018). Central Registry of Drug Abuse Sixty-sixth Report (2007-2016). Hong Kong: Narcotics Division, Security Bureau.

Shek, Daniel; Sun, Rachel and Merrick, Joav (Eds.) (2012). Drug Abuse in Hong Kong: Development & Evaluation of a Prevention Program. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science. (362.2917095125 D79)

Siegel, Larry (2018).  Criminology: Theories, Patterns, and Typologies (13th ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. (364 S57)

Sims, Barbara (Ed.) (2005). Substance Abuse Treatment with Correctional Clients: Practical Implications for Institutional and Community Settings. New York: Haworth Press. (365.66 S9)

#Tang, Magdalene [et al.] (2014). Surveillance of emerging drugs of abuse in substance abusers. Hong Kong: Hospital Authority.

#Tang, Wai Kwong [et al.] (2016). Evidence of Brain Damage in Chronic Ketamine Users – a Brain Imaging Study. Hong Kong: Beat Drug Fund Association.

Taylor, Liana (2016). “General Responsivity Adherence in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court: Examining the Impact on Substance-Use Outcomes” in Journal of Drug Issues, Vol.46 (1): 24-40 (online access)

Tonry, Michael (Ed.) (2011).  Why Punish?  How Much? A Reader on Punishment.  NY: Oxford University Press. (364.6 W629 T66)

 UNAFEI (2005). Research on the Trends in Drug Abuse and Effective Measures for the Treatment of the Drug Abusers in Asian Countries: An Analysis of Innovative Measures for the Treatment of Drug Abusers. Tokyo: UNAFEI. (362.29095 R42)

#United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2017).  Fact Sheet On Statistics and Trends in Illicit Drugs. NY: United Nations.

#United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2018). World Drug Report 2018: Executive Summary-Conclusions and Policy Implications. United Nations publications.

#White, R.H. and Gorman, D.M. (2000). Dynamics of the Drug-Crime Relationship, in Criminal Justice, Vol.1, pp.151-218.

#Yip, Hak Kwong (2013). A review of estimation methods on prevalence of drug abuse population in Hong Kong: Final Report. Hong Kong: Security Bureau.

#Zhong, Yueying; Wong Sing Wing and Wu Keung Fai (2008). Study of Cocaine Abuse in Hong Kong: Report to the Narcotics Division. Hong Kong: Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong.

Course co-ordinator and teachers