KUALA LUMPUR: The government must carry out a more detailed and holistic study to find out why the drug menace is still prevalent in this country despite the various measures taken all these years to check the problem, said National Parent-Teacher Association Chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan.
He said the time has come for the authorities to review the various programmes that have been implemented in the past to combat drug abuse, and to determine whether or not they have met their objectives.
“Have these programmes been a success or a failure? This is what the authorities must find out by carrying out a detailed study and identifying the various problems related to the drug issue, following which they must draw up more effective programmes to fight the menace that has been around for so long.
“We should be more earnest in our efforts to contain drug abuse. All those involved in fighting this menace should make it their main agenda because drug abuse is our nation’s number one enemy,” he said.
Admitting that he was quite frustrated over the failure of the various initiatives taken to rein in drug addiction, Mohamad Ali lashed out at certain sections of society who, he claimed, paid scant attention to the drug problem and who even thought that it was “normal to do drugs”.
According to statistics revealed by the National Anti-Drugs Agency (NADA), the number of new drug addicts reported in 2014 and 2015 totalled 26,660, bringing the grand total of addicts registered with the agency to 282,660.
In comparison, the number of new addicts reported in 2012 and 2013 totalled 23,782.
It was also reported that 73.4 per cent of the total addicts as at 2015 comprised youths aged between 18 and 39. The youngest addict reported in 2014 was aged 13 while the previous year’s was only seven years old.
Pointing out that the drug issue could not be treated lightly, Mohamad Ali said more integrated efforts, as well as the cooperation of various parties, would be needed to address the menace.
Referring to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent announcement of an “all-out war” against drugs, Mohamad Ali said it was a good reminder to all segments of society that they too must do their bit to bring the situation under control, instead of leaving it solely to the police and NADA.
During the National Anti-Drug Day celebration in Lawas, Sarawak, on Feb 28, Ahmad Zahid had said that this year, all the agencies concerned would carry out an all-out war against drugs.
“As citizens, we should be more responsible and be concerned about this problem so that it doesn’t fester,” said Mohamad Ali.
He also urged schools to cooperate more effectively with the police, NADA, Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) and the relevant non-governmental organisations to conduct regular anti-drug campaigns in order to create more awareness among students on the destructive effects of drug addiction.
“I know such a cooperation already exists but talks, exhibitions and forums should be held on a more regular basis to provide information on dangerous drugs. Other activities should also be held to make youths more wary of substance abuse,” he said.
He also saw a need for school authorities to enlist the help of the police, NADA and Pemadam to conduct urine tests on students to identify those who may be taking illicit drugs.
Mohamad Ali added that poor communications between parents and children often led to the latter spending more time with their close friends, some of whom could be a bad influence.
“Parents should monitor their children and find out who their friends are. The wrong choice of friends may see them ending up being involved in undesirable activities, including drug abuse.
“The drug problem is not something new, still we’ve to do whatever we can to combat it as we don’t want our children’s future to be destroyed by drugs,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology Dr Haslina Muhamad also agreed that among the reasons children went astray were their parents who were too absorbed with their careers.
She said if children were exposed early to the evils of illicit drugs, they would not be easily swayed by drug users and peddlers.
Stressing the importance of religious education for children, she said studies have shown that religion was one of the factors that kept a person away from destructive habits like taking drugs.
Haslina said apart from their friends’ influence, individuals were also drawn to drugs out of curiosity or to relieve their stress.
Teenagers, in particular, were easily influenced by bad hats as they were naive and still immature, she said.
“However, not all teens who experiment with drugs end up as addicts – some of them give it up as they are aware of its ill-effects. The problem lies with those youngsters who don’t want to quit even though they know drugs cause harm,” she said.
Haslina added that while even short-term drug use could leave psychological scars on an individual, “what’s more the effects of long-term abuse”.
She said the longer a person is dependent on drugs, the higher the dosage he would require in order to feel “high”.
“If an addict doesn’t feel ‘high’, he will feel stressed out. Research has shown that as long as an addict remains stressed, he will continue to be dependent on drugs,” she explained.
Some people, she added, have this mistaken notion that by getting high on drugs, they could forget all their woes or pressures, even if it was only momentarily.
“But they don’t realise the self-destruction all that drug use is causing. People should exercise their wisdom when making decisions… they should not choose the easy way out by taking drugs because in doing so, they are destroying their own lives and future,” she said.