Celebrities using drugs should face ban: Survey

08:59, January 13, 2010      

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More than half of respondents have called for a ban on celebrities who have drug problems, a poll released yesterday by China Youth Daily and sina.com showed.

Celebrities topped the list of those at high risk of drug addiction according to nearly 73 percent of the 2,031 respondents, and some 56 percent advocated harsher punishment like a ban on drug-addicted celebrities because of their impact on society, the survey shows.

"Celebrities who use drugs send a dangerous message to youth," deputy director of the Beijing Anti-Doping Committee, who would give only his surname as Shi, said in an interview yesterday.

The latest figures from the Office of China National Narcotics Control Commission show that by the end of June 2009, more than 1.2 million drug addicts had been registered in its database, with a growing number of people below 35 addicted to soft drugs.

"As the pressures of life and work increase, people, especially celebrities, are likely to find a way to relax, and soft drugs are easy to get," Shi said, adding that people's drug knowledge often refers to hard drugs, but education about soft drugs is not so widespread.

Drugs such as ice enter the brain and trigger a cascading release of stimulating chemicals to create or enhance the recreational experience, which is believed to be non-addictive and less damaging to health than hard drugs like heroin, which can lead to severe physical addiction.

The poll showed more than 90 percent of respondents think they know the harm of drug abuse. However, the drugs they refer to are hard drugs, Shi said.

"But in the battle with drugs, soft drugs are becoming an important target and more people think it is fine to take soft drugs, which also triggers the domino effect of celebrities involved in drug addict," Shi said.

Looking back on a series of celebrities' drug scandals, soft drugs like ice, a popular name for crystal methamphetamine, and ecstasy, a popular name of MDMA, are frequently mentioned.

The latest scandal occurred on Dec 29 when Zhang Yibai, a 46-year-old Chinese film director, was arrested for taking ice and got a 14-day detention in Beijing.

Some drug experts think celebrities have their own difficulties and society should treat them leniently and help them recover.

"For the celebrities inside the entertainment industry, they have too many excuses for drug abuse. They are facing heavier pressure to build a good image and they have to keep creating songs, soaps and movies to attract their fans. The drugs can take them away from reality and inspire them," Zhang Wenjun, head of the Beijing Venus Drug Treatment Center, told China Daily.

Zhang, a former drug addict who has been clean for more than four years, said celebrities are also human beings who can make mistakes.

"We should give them a chance to come back to normal life. Their bad behavior can sound an alarm for youth, so what we should do is guide people to learn what is right," Zhang said.

For Zhang, the top priority this year is to let people know that soft drugs are more dangerous psychologically than hard ones.

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