'I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get off drugs'

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'I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get off drugs'

The number of drug-related crimes in Korea is on the rise, with officials estimating that over 500,000 people are taking illegal narcotics in the country.
According to data collected by the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service (HIRA), the number of patients in their teens and 20s who are addicted to some form of drug last year stood at 176, up 92 percent from five years ago.
There are currently three drug rehabilitation centers in Korea, but none of them receive government subsidies.

Among general hospitals equipped to deal with drug addiction, only two receive financial support from the government, and they can only handle fewer than 300 patients. The allocated budget for the subsidies those hospitals receives stands at 410 million won ($291,400).

Experts say that preventive education and rehabilitation is essential to tackle the growing drug problem.
“In order for us to resolve the problem, we need to put our heads together to establish adequate countermeasures regarding addiction and rehabilitation, not just focus on making arrests,” said People Power Party lawmaker Thae Yong-ho on Sept. 30.
“It is hard to quit smoking. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to get off drugs.”
“I know that people are skeptical but the government should allocate a bigger budget. Data released in the United States shows that the cost of drug-related crimes and trials goes down when more money is spent on treatment and rehab.”
“It is important to prevent people from being exposed to drugs in the first place. The punishment for possession of drugs should be harsher.”
“The treatment success rate is low. Do not waste the taxes we paid. Increasing punishment would be more effective."
“A crackdown on suppliers is needed. Find out why the number of offenders has skyrocketed in the past five years.”
“Drugs are expensive, you know. The prosecution should launch an extensive investigation.”

BY KIM EUN-SONG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [han.hyerim1@joongang.co.kr]
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