KUALA LUMPUR – A holistic deterrent approach that includes character building elements is needed to address the drug abuse scourge in society and build a drug-free, resilient generation.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris’ Psychology and Counselling Department senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Muzafar Shah Mohd Razali said an effective drug abuse prevention strategy was not merely about providing information to youths about the effects of drugs as it should also incorporate skills on how to steer clear of negative influences.
He underlined that youths needed to be inculcated with positive attributes from a young age so that they became resilient and were able to deal with challenges in the right way.
“Resilient youths are not easily influenced by negative behaviour although they may come from disadvantaged background or broken families,’’ Muzafar Shah, who specialises in education and drug abuse prevention, told Bernama.
The matter came under the spotlight following reports that some of the youths linked to the Datuk Keramat religious boarding school fire which killed 23 people last month had been charged with drug offences.
Home Deputy Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed had also said that school children in 420 schools nationwide were deemed to be at high risk of serious drug abuse, with random tests on 36,675 schoolchildren in 2015, indicating that 1,475 testing positive for drugs.
Muzafah Shah said besides imbuing youths with social skills, their attitude must also be aligned with religious and cultural values.
He also said that continuous efforts must be made to help keep youths off the streets, including by setting up centres where they could engage in healthy activities such as sports and games or even learning new skills.
The activities at such centres, he added, should be innovative to keep them interested for the long term.
Meanwhile, consultant psychologist and counsellor Dr Meriam Omar Din noted that society’s over-emphasis on tangible achievements such as in the academic field had put a strain on children’s psychology, pushing some to seek other outlets such as drugs to deal with their frustration.
She reckoned that the inability to meet socio-economic expectations might lead to feelings of rejection by society and unwanted by parents.
“Those in similar circumstances may group together. With drug supply just around the corner, it’s easy to fall through the cracks and addiction is an almost immediate effect,” she said. – BERNAMA