Drug Addiction

Psychotropic Substance Abuse and Dependence

Psychotropic substance is a chemical substance that acts on the central nervous system and alters brain functioning. It consists of natural or synthetic products. Some psychotropic substances are produced naturally and adopted for medical use, such as cocaine, while some psychotropic substances are produced synthetically from chemicals without medical purpose, such as K2 and mephedrone.

The impacts of psychotropic substance abuse and dependence

Chemical substances can alter the user’s senses, cognition, perception, consciousness, mood and behavior. The user may pursue the enjoyment experienced from these alterations resulting in addiction. Some of the characteristics of substance abuse and dependence include intense craving, tolerance, withdrawal, continuous use despite negative consequences, impairments of health, social relationships and work performance. Moreover, supply, trafficking, possession and use of illegal psychotropic substances are strictly prohibited in Hong Kong.

Some popular psychotropic substances in Hong Kong

  • Ketamine (street name “k”) is a dissociative anesthetic. It is mostly used in veterinary practice. Long-term use of ketamine results in strong psychological dependence, urinary bladder and kidney inflammation as well as brain impairment.
  • Methamphetamine, also known as “ice”, is a central nervous system stimulant. Long-term use of “ice” causes drug induced psychosis, heart and kidney failure, brain impairment and “meth-mouth”.
  • Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant. Long-term use results in drug induced psychosis, increased risk of stroke and heart infarction that may cause sudden death.
  • Hypnotics, such as Valium, Triazolam, Midazolam, are prescriptions. However, some users may misuse the medicines by taking a higher or more frequent dosage, resulting in dependence. Long-term use may result in psychological dependence, depression, amnesia and cognition impairment.    


With appropriate medical treatment, counseling and support from family and friends, people with psychotropic substance use can resume a healthy and meaningful life.
Treatment and diagnosis of psychotropic substance abuse and dependence should be provided by professional practitioners. If you suspect yourself, your partner, your family member or your friend having psychotropic substance abuse or dependence, please call our hotline on 2827 1000.