Fri, Oct 19, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Anti-drugs efforts touted after decline in number of deaths

Staff writer, with CNA

Twenty-eight people died in the first eight months of the year after using new forms of illegal drugs, fewer than a year earlier, reflecting the government’s anti-drug efforts, authorities said on Wednesday.

However, the use of such drugs is spreading quickly, they said.

Of the 28, 22 were men and six were women, with an average age of 30.8 years, said Tu Ta-jen (涂達人), head of the Ministry of Justice’s Institute of Forensic Medicine.

From the numbers, it is obvious that a campaign launched by the government in July last year to clamp down on drug use, mainly focusing on new narcotics, with a budget of NT$10 billion (US$322.84 million at the cirrent exchange rate) over a four-year period, has borne fruit, Tu said.

Last year, 100 people died after using new narcotics, Tu said.

Autopsies showed that the bodies of the 28 contained on average 4.6 types of new narcotics, up from 4.2 last year, he said, adding that the use of such drugs is rising quickly.

In the past, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine and so-called club drugs, such as ketamine and ecstasy, were the most commonly used illegal drugs, but now substances referred to as “bath salts,” such as methylenedioxypyrovalerones (MDPV) and mephedrones, both of which contain cathinone and are packaged in coffee pouches, or disguised as candy or fruit jellies, are making their way into all quarters of life, Tu said.

Statistics compiled by prosecutors show that the number of regular drug users in Taiwan has exceeded 60,000, with dealers selling more than 800 types of liquid narcotics alone.

In the first half of the year, 68,488 cases involving the use of new narcotics were recorded, up from 45,021 in the first half of last year, Food and Drug Administration statistics showed.

As narcotics now come in such a wide range of guises, it is increasingly difficult to spot them, the agency said.

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