History of Drug Misuse in China

Drug misuse in China has a long and complicated history. The opium trade, which began in the early 19th century, played a significant role in shaping the country’s modern drug problems. The opium trade was initially brought to China by Western traders, who sought to balance trade deficits by exporting opium to China. This led to a widespread addiction among the Chinese population, which in turn led to a series of wars known as the Opium Wars (1839-1842 and 1856-1860). The Chinese government, unable to stop the import of opium, was ultimately defeated in these wars and was forced to legalize the drug.

During the early 20th century, the Chinese government implemented strict drug control laws and successfully reduced opium use. However, the use of other drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine, began to rise in the latter half of the century. In the 1960s and 1970s, heroin became a major problem in China, particularly in the southern provinces. This was due in part to the Golden Triangle, a region in Southeast Asia that was a major source of opium and heroin. In response to this problem, the Chinese government implemented a series of measures, including law enforcement and treatment and rehabilitation programs.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the non-medical use of prescription drugs and synthetic drugs in China. Prescription drugs such as sedatives and painkillers have become increasingly popular among drug users. Synthetic drugs, such as ketamine and fentanyl, have also become increasingly prevalent.

In response to these issues, the Chinese government has implemented a number of measures to combat drug misuse. These include law enforcement, treatment and rehabilitation programs, as well as public education campaigns. The government has also increased cooperation with other countries to combat drug trafficking and has made efforts to address the root causes of drug addiction, such as poverty and lack of education.


  1. “Opium Wars.” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica. Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2021.
  2. “Drug Abuse in China.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2016. Web. 18 Jan. 2021.
  3. “China’s War on Drugs.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, 22 Dec. 2017. Web. 18 Jan. 2021.
  4. “China’s War on Drugs: What’s Really Happening?” The Diplomat. The Diplomat, 25 Apr. 2017. Web. 18 Jan. 2021.

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