Shanghai seniors turn to drugs for mahjong marathons

Middle-aged Shanghai residents are turning to ketamine, cocaine and methamphetamine to sustain them through marathon sessions of mahjong and cards, a state newspaper has warned.

The newspaper said many of the retired and middle aged players took cocaine and other stimulants during card-playing and mahjong sessions that often lasted all night. The games frequently involve gambling, which is illegal on the mainland.

"Most of the older victims are unemployed or retired and so have plenty of spare time. They are often not well-educated and have little awareness of the harm caused by taking drugs," said Zheng Yuqing, spokesman for the Shanghai anti-drug commission.

"More and more middle-aged and older people take drugs because they feel lonely and empty after retiring or losing their jobs," said Li Luyan, secretary-general of Shanghai Sports Association for the Aged. "Their children and society in general should show more care to these people to keep them away from drugs … they need more activities, such as sports, to fill their spare time."

Last year a 30-year-old man in Guizhou province slipped into a coma after playing for 32 hours non-stop, state media reported.

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