• Kyodo News

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Looking to add to the list of illegal drugs, the health ministry will conduct its first nationwide survey on teenage drug abuse.

In addition to surveying about 100,000 teens, mainly junior high and high school students, the ministry will send questionnaires to all of the nation’s approximately 1,700 hospitals with psychiatric departments to take stock of the drugs used by patients with drug addictions, the officials said.

Any new drugs the survey uncovers that are found to cause hallucinations, stimulate the central nervous system or demonstrate other properties that could be abused will be designated illegal by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The Pharmaceutical Affairs Law was revised in April to ban the manufacture, import and sale of drugs which are not narcotics but cause similar effects. It does not ban the use of such drugs.

A total of 32 drugs are so far designated under the law. But according to the health ministry, new types with similar properties are circulating and being abused, mainly by teenagers, making it difficult to keep up with the situation.

“We want to grasp what kinds of drugs are circulating in as much detail as possible so that it will help lead to raising awareness among the young generation,” a ministry official said.

The Tochigi Drug Addiction Rehabilitation Center warned of serious teenage drug abuse, citing the Internet and dance clubs as among the main sources. It pointed to the case of a male, now in his 20s, who learned about illegal drugs online.

The drugs were easily bought via e-mail and information on how to use them and get loans to buy them were also available online, the center said.

He became paranoid and unable to control his emotions after taking the drugs, the center said. After dropping out of high school, he was repeatedly hospitalized for psychiatric treatment and was finally introduced to the Tochigi center.

“There are many cases in which both parents and children take drugs lightly,” said Chiaki Kuritsubo, who heads the center. “The government should not only push a message of ‘absolutely no’ regarding drugs but also provide accurate information.”

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