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The Silent Epidemic: Drug Use Surges Among Korean Youth

Daniel Kim Views  

Recent survey results from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety reveal a concerning rise in drug use, particularly among younger demographics. According to the survey, 3 out of every 100 adults have used at least one type of illegal drug. The perception that South Korea is no longer a drug-free nation is also gaining traction, with over 80% of respondents acknowledging the seriousness of the domestic drug problem. In response, the government plans to bolster preventative education and rehabilitation infrastructure, as well as actively combat drug misuse, illegal usage, and distribution.

The 2023 Drug Damage Perception Survey released by the Ministry on the 11th showed that 3.1% of adult respondents admitted to having used at least one type of drug substance, such as marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, or ketamine. Among teenagers under 18, 2.6% admitted to having used drugs. Furthermore, 11.5% of adults and 16.1% of teenagers believed that their family, peers, or acquaintances might use psychotropic drugs. Of these, 4.7% of adults and 3.8% of teenagers thought they might use marijuana.

The primary motivation for drug use was found to be coping with depression and stress. When asked about their motivations for drug use, adults scored highest on coping motives (dealing with anxiety), pleasure motives, and social motives (social interaction), with scores of 37.8, 31.3, and 15.9, respectively. For teenagers, the scores were 31.9 for coping motives, 22.8 for pleasure motives, and 12.0 for social motives.

The survey also highlighted a widespread perception of easy drug accessibility. 89.7% of adult respondents and 84% of teenagers showed beliefs that they could quickly obtain drugs in Korea either through introductions from acquaintances, internet websites, or social media. The belief that Korea is not a drug-free nation was shared by 86.3% of adults and 70.1% of teenagers. Furthermore, 92.7% of adults and 84.4% of teenagers agreed that the domestic drug issue is serious. When asked if the commercial use of the term “drugs” made them feel more familiar with drugs, 48.6% of teenagers and 46.5% of adults responded affirmatively. However, there were knowledge gaps evident, with 51.7% of adults and 55.4% of teenagers responding “yes” or “I don’t know” to the statement Drugs prescribed by a doctor are not legally classified as drugs.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety conducted this survey online, targeting 3,000 adults aged 19-59 and 2,000 teenagers aged 14-18. A representative of the Ministry stated, “This survey aims to gain an accurate understanding of perceptions regarding drug use and to leverage these findings in shaping tailored prevention education programs, promotional initiatives, and effective social rehabilitation policies.” The government also intends to address the issue proactively by expanding addiction rehabilitation centers, operating a 24-hour drug counseling center, and establishing an Integrated Drug Misuse Monitoring System.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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