Enshen Li

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Since 2008, China has established a new drug detoxification system to supersede the old mechanism that relied on administrative custodial measures for drug treatment. The new system introduces a three-tiered mechanism of voluntary, community and coercive drug detoxification, which aims at the physical, psychological and social aspects of drug-dependence treatment of addicts. However, although the new drug detoxification system seems to serve as a scientific and human-centered drug treatment tool, its practices appear to be rather different from the official rationales. Through three case studies in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Kunming, this article focuses on the legal deficiencies, theoretical inconsistencies and practical problems of this freshly-established system. This article also focuses on the uniqueness of the social conditions upon which the three detoxification programs are implemented. The article thus uncovers the genuine intention of the Chinese authorities in hastily introducing this system lies in the government’s endeavor to ensure the maintenance of social order and public safety. As such, the new drug detoxification system functions primarily as a risk-control measure, rather than a rehabilitative instrument, administering actuarial justice by identifying, classifying and managing drug addicts.