Drug abuse is emerging as a serious problem in Korea with the number of drug addicts reaching 15,000 a year and 77,000 people receiving treatment over the past five years.
|Rep. Choi Do-ja|
Notably, the number of adolescent and youth patients with drug addiction problems has risen steeply, raising the need for a new measure to control the problem.
Rep. Choi Do-ja of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party issued a news release on Monday, based on her analysis of the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA)’s report and checking drug addiction patients over five years from 2014 to 2018.
By region, Gyeonggi Province had the highest number of patients with drug addiction (18,492), followed by Seoul (13,355), Busan (5,708), Incheon (5,469), South Chungcheong Province (4,760) and Daegu (4,562).
While there was a minor 1.7 percent decrease in the number of drug addiction patients in 2018 compared to 2014, out of the 17 cities and provinces, the amount of drug addiction patients steeply increased in seven regions, including Daejeon, Gwangju, and South Chungcheong Province, had increased.
In the last five years, Daejeon had the highest rate of drug addiction growth with 79.8 percent, followed by Gwangju (39.1 percent), Incheon (18.6 percent), South Chungcheong Province (15.5 percent), and Seoul (13.7 percent), Choi added.
Choi noted that by age group, people in their 40s had the highest number of drug addicts with 13,330, followed by 50s (11,574), 30s (14,293) and 20s (9,088).
“Drug addiction among adolescents and youths showed a steep increase,” she said. “Over the cited period, the drug addiction rate for adolescent and youth increased 15.72 and 14.19 percent, respectively.”
The rate was the highest increase among all age groups except for patients over the age of 80 (19.57 percent), she said.
“Drug addiction occurs not only in narcotics but also in the case of misuse of medicines commonly used in daily life such as diet and sleeping pills and antipyretics,” the lawmaker said. “As an average of 15,000 drug addiction occurs annually, it is essential for the health authorities to take active measures against drug abuse.”
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