ISLAMABAD: The need to mobilise the youth through effective community participation and interventions at educational institutes was stressed at a seminar here on Wednesday.
Over 400 students from Islamabad and Rawalpindi attended the event organised by the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control’s Narcotics Control Division (NCD) and Pakistan US Alumni Network (PUAN).
The seminar aimed at educating youth on measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from drug abuse.
“Let us resolve to be there for our friends and family; it is our social responsibly to help drug addicts,” said Balighur Rehman, state minister for federal education and professional training, as well as interior and narcotics control.
The minister announced the introduction of mandatory physical training and sports at educational campuses as a way to channel positive energies from students.
“The media’s role is very important. We are formulating a code of ethics which prohibits the media from glorifying not just criminals and terrorists, but drug abusers as well,” Rehman added.
NCD Joint Secretary Muhammad Hafeez presented the negative effects of narcotics use among young people, terming drug addiction a “chronic relapsing brain disease”.
“Addicts know it is harmful but cannot avoid it; they have undergone some sort of physical and psychological change which needs to be treated”, he said.
Hafeez said curiosity, poor community support, a lack of awareness of harmful effects, and the easy availability of drugs were the main causes of drug use among young people.
“It has been observed that more than 40 per cent of [young] drug addicts are influenced by their friends,” the secretary said.
A majority of drug addicts fall between the age of 25 and 39, Hafeez said, adding that most begin by using club drugs such as ecstasy and oxy shots.
He said in the absence of awareness on treatment for addiction, society simply disowns addicts and attempts to isolate them without proper intervention
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Director Ramon Negron said the country had 6.7 million drug users, making up 3 per cent of the population, with 4.1 million classified as drug addicts.
Dr Rizwan Taj, chairman of the psychiatry department at Pakistan Institution of Medical Sciences, said addiction treatment is a very complicated and challenging problem. He said every addict has their own personal circumstances, thus requiring personalised rehabilitation.
“Having seen thousands of addicts, we know if there is family support, it is easier to treat the patient,” he added.
PUAN representatives Daniyal Hassan and Izzat Fatima said the media needed to engage youth and parents on calling for stricter implementation of government rules on pharmacies. A skit was also presented at the event.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2015.