The growing epidemic of illegal Drug use in China

February 4, 2015

There is a price that comes with living in a so-called “free” world with human rights that extend to every citizen — even hard-core criminals.

Besides violent crime and human trafficking (slavery), one of those challenges is the illegal drug trade.

For instance, in the United States, The DEA reports that Mexican drug cartels are making a bigger push to organize their black market activities in the United States, Europe and neighboring Latin American countries.

In fact, the US Justice Department reported, “The illegal drug market in the United States is one of the most profitable in the world.”

What about China? Between 1950 – 1976, China had little crime and had eliminated illegal drug use.  Under Mao, the drug traffickers were executed and addicts either rehabilitated or shot. Those who survived fled to Hong Kong, Macao, Europe and the United States. But after Mao’s death, that started to change.

Until the 1970s, China’s economy was managed by the communist government and was kept closed from other economies. Together with political reforms, China in the early 1980’s began to open its economy and signed a number of regional trade agreements.

Eventually China joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001. This meant that China could only engage in trade with the world following rules the CCP did not make. After China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), the service sector was considerably liberalized and foreign investment was allowed; restrictions on retail, wholesale and distribution ended. Banking, financial services, insurance and telecommunications were also opened up to foreign investment.

That’s when the illegal business of trafficking in illegal drugs returned to China with a vengeance.

Since the early 1980’s, due to China’s economic boom to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, some parts of the country now battle social problems, including soaring rates of drug addiction. One of the worst affected areas is China’s southern province of Yunnan, the entry point for most heroin.

Yunnan’s border is easy to cross from the infamous Golden Triangle. In Yunnan, a fix of heroin costs about the same as a US chocolate bar.

To deal with this challenge, Chinese authorities send heroin addicts to a drug rehabilitation center at the provincial capital of Yunnan province, which is where the largest drug rehabilitation center in the world is located.

The heroin addicts spend two years in a strict rehabilitation program to help kick the habit. However, once released, many return to addiction.

The reports that “The country’s economy has exploded over the past quarter-century. … Only 25 years ago, narcotics and illicit drug use were nearly unheard of. Today, Chinese society and government authorities are increasingly grappling with the explosion in drug use and drug addicts, as well as how to respond to the phenomenon. With more relaxed borders, increased wealth, and greater individual freedoms, drug addiction and its consequences threaten to become a permanent fixture within Chinese society.”

In 1992, there were less than 180,000 registered drug abusers in China. By 2014, that number had climbed to about 2.5 million.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards


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The Truth about Gambling and Drug Use in China

April 21, 2011

Paul Johnson wrote an opinionated essay of China’s Secret Sickness: Is History repeating itself? in The Jewish World Review.

Johnson wrote, “China has secret weaknesses. Its most serious: gambling and drug addiction. China’s new prosperity is already producing a rapid expansion of the country’s international gambling class, not to mention an appreciable increase in the number of drug addicts.”

What Johnson says of China isn’t a secret.

In fact, North America is by far the king of global gambling and drug use — something Johnson doesn’t mention.

From Illegal Drug Trade in the People’s Republic of China, we learn “there are over 900,000 registered drug addicts in China, but the Government recognizes that the actual number of users is far higher. Some unofficial estimates range as high as 12 million.”

When we compare China’s figures with the US, we discover that “an estimated 12.8 million Americans, about 6 percent of the household population aged twelve and older, use illegal drugs on a current basis (within the past thirty days).…” Source:


If these numbers are correct, China and the US have about the same number of illegal drug users.  However, China has five times the people, which mean 6% of Americans are addicted to drugs while less than one percent of Chinese are.

How about Johnson’s claim that the Chinese have a secret sickness for gambling? The answer may be found at Global Economics of Gambling (GEG).

From GEG, I learned that in 2006, revenues from gambling in America were 94.9 billion dollars while they were only 5.1 billion in China.

I have a question for Paul Johnson, “Why are you focusing on China when North America has more of a problem with gambling and drug use than China has?”

Discover Macao – Organized Crime in China or Not


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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