Sunday, June 19, 2011

Focus on Drug Abuse Prevention in schools, in Nagaland


KOHIMA, JUN 17: There are around 27000 Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) in Nagaland, excluding oral drug users, as per a survey conducted by the Nagaland State AIDS Control Society. There is no available statistic on alcoholics, but it has been estimated that the number of drug users and alcoholics in Nagaland would cross a minimum total of 50,000 drug abusers and alcoholics.

These were highlighted during the one-day Orientation Workshop on Drug Abuse Prevention for Heads of School Institutions held at Millennium Hotel today. Looking at the long prevailing issues of students’ indulgence in use of Gateway Drugs such as Inhalants including Dendrite, Erasex, Gutka, Alcohol etc, the consultative meeting aimed at identifying roles and responsibilities of educational institutions and working towards initiating Drug Abuse Prevention in schools.
In drawing a comprehensive action plan strategies to mainstream Drug Abuse Prevention programmes into educational institutions, the workshop suggested that schools should identify users according to its own suitable method as a first step towards prevention of drug abuse.
It also strongly endorsed the need for a counselor in every school but keeping in mind that this would depend on the proprietor of the school for private schools, it suggested on impressing upon the government to fund a counselor for every school as it does for Hindi Teachers.
It further suggested that a section of schools be allotted for display of all necessary information related to tobacco, drugs, etc, as well as to dedicate a day in a month to discuss the matter with the students and do necessary surveys to find out the status of the problem. The involvement of students was also necessitated in order to find a solution towards this goal besides seminars and trainings for teachers and parents.
Also voicing concern for the failure of strict implementation with regard to the sale of tobacco within 100 yards of school premises, the schools representatives pointed out that, although it is banned, shops sell it and students buy it. While a fine of Rs. 1000/- is being imposed on the shops caught selling tobacco products, it was reasoned that if they can make a profit of Rs.5000, losing Rs.1000 is still not a loss. This has been observed as a major problem in all the schools.
Earlier, Abou Mere, Director of Kripa Foundation,Nagaland stating that Nagaland is passing through a turbulent period in its history, the transition from a traditional tribal society to a modern technological culture, lamented that homes and families do not discuss values anymore. He pointed out that the major reasons why people abuse drugs is availability and easy accessibility, parents not providing quality time, increase in peer pressure and low capacity to cope with life/stress respectively.
He said this is impacting us in respect of health by causing premature deaths and side effects besides producing school and college dropouts, loss of working hours and productivity, increase in crime and economy.
He also informed that Hepatitis C among IDUs is more than 20%, which he noted is much more alarming than the prevalence rate of HIV.
The Director further said a study done by Kripa Foundation & UNODC H-13 in Kohima with 250 Drug users showed that Rs.180 Crores is going out of the State annually taking into account the daily expense of a drug addict and alcoholics (this excludes local brew as the money generated from it circulates within the State).
Strongly pointing out that drug or alcohol abuse is a disease, he impressed upon the schools on creating awareness on drug hazards by promoting youth friendly activities and not just regular academic classes through seminars, trainings and workshops on life skills and social issues, counselling of students and family members, taking part in community events and referral for counselling.
Meanwhile, Dr. P Ngully, Chairman, of Kripa Foundation in Nagaland, asserted that drug abuse is a social problem which has to be addressed together.
Referring to a study on drug abuse conducted in the urban area in Nagaland, he said 80% are in the age group of 20-30 years while 96% are above secondary level. 47.3% are employed while a worrying factor is the age of first use at 19, accounting for 86.5% in this regard. 60.8% of them attributed the cause of addiction to curiosity while 47.2% was because of peer pressure and 52.6% showed secondary addiction including gambling, sex and womanizing. He said that the criminal record before treatment stands at 25.6% according to the study while it showed improvement by coming down to 15% after first relapse. The Regional Resource & Training Centre - North East II covers the states of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh and is supported by National Institute of Social Defence, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment Govt. of India and managed by Kripa Foundation, Nagaland.

Submitted by
Abu Mere
Kripa Foundation Nagaland