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Chinese experiences in drug treatment

In a city with the most visible East Asian population in Canada, there is one type of Asian who remains…

By Kate Allen , in City , on November 18, 2008

In a city with the most visible East Asian population in Canada, there is one type of Asian who remains almost invisible in Vancouver: the drug addicts.

Health workers and drug counselors say there is a hidden group of mostly Chinese and Vietnamese drug users who receive no treatment because they are flying under every official radar.

In 2000, Dr. Siu-Ming Kwok published a study called “Exploring the experiences of Chinese in drugs treatment programs in Vancouver.”

All five respondents* were male, between ages 20 and 24, and from Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Vietnam. Here is some of what they said about their experiences:

“We [Chinese] believe that we do not bring shame to the doorstep of our families…I will keep this [drug use] as a secret away from my parents for the rest of my life.” – Mati

“I am now a burden for my parents, I am an insult to all Chinese…loss of face by Chinese to the White people” – Ah Wai

“At that time I only know there are detoxes. I have no idea of other programs like out-patient centre…they are not publicized on TV nor does anyone reach out to us to explain.” – Peter

“I can only said sick, sick, and sick to medical doctor…I cannot express myself other than that” – Ah Wai

“You cannot express some very delicate feeling in your second language…when I can communicate with my mother tongue, I feel more safe and understood.” – Peter

“Each time I leave a [detoxification centre], I feel I am useless. I am nothing. I was rejected by my (Chinese) community…let alone by the mainstream society…I am a liar to my parents. I cannot keep my promise and I bring further shame to the family” – Ah Wai

“I would stay longer in such a caring atmosphere even though I might be the only Chinese in that agency. However, I would definitely leave without a second thought If a Chinese drug treatment program treats me like garbage.” – Ah Leung

“When I stay clean, I contact again my parents…they decide to support if I keep on staying clean….it’s good that you are forgiven by the people to whom you owe so much” – Peter

* All the respondents used pseudonyms


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