News on Sunday

Young Professionals: Why are our youth most targeted? 

On June 26, the world observes the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Building on the success of last year, the theme for 2017 is: “Listen First - Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe.” In Mauritius, more and more youngsters are getting involved in drugs. What could be the reasons behind this trend? How could we as the leaders of tomorrow prevent this scourge from destroying our society? 


Anjinsen Valamootoo: “The falling price of drugs makes youngsters more vulnerable” 

Anjinsen Valamootoo argues that for many youngsters, drug taking can initially appear to have positive effects such as lifting your mood, relaxing your body or even giving you more energy for sexual activities- which of course is a strategy used by drug dealers to dupe their young clients. “The falling price of drugs has now put them within the reach of many youngsters and for many teenagers, drugs are now regarded as integral of their music and dance culture and an automatic part of growing up. Other factors, like adverse childhood events including abuse (physical, emotional or sexual), neglect (physical or emotional), growing up with household substance abuse, criminality of household members, mental illness among household members, and parental discord and illicit drug use do account for drug addiction among the young generation.” He believes that the most effective preventive programmes includes comprehensive personal and social skills training to build resistance, deliver information through interactive methods and cultural sensitivity that includes relevant language and audio-visual content targeting all levels involving the family, school, or healthcare. This would definitely contribute in bringing a change to this social ill.

Yudhish Rambaruth: “Treatment rather than repression is recommended” 

The youth are more vulnerable to fall into drug abuse for various reasons, says Yudhish. “Problematic families or low socio-economic status, a youngster has all the criteria for early initiation, for example peer pressure, easy access to drugs, especially synthetic drugs and curiosity.” As Secretary of The Rising, an NGO, he states that his organization proposes a series of actions that can be taken. “Treatment rather than repression or punitive measures must be prioritised in the fight against the proliferation of drugs. Medical treatment should be offered to the drug addict. The best deterrent for proliferation of drugs in all its forms remains education. It is the only way to improve social outcomes and change in social norms. And lastly, we need to consider laws, whereby some amendments should be carried out. For example, The Pharmacy Act 1983 must be amended to empower the Pharmacy Board so as to take severe actions in cases of breaches of the provisions of the law by pharmacists with regard to drugs.” 

Vencaten Ganessen: “Parents should be role models”

Vencaten highlights that curiosity is the utmost reason pushing youngsters towards drugs. Another reason, he adds, is the temporary escape from feelings of sadness, loneliness or unhappiness. “At first, they may find it helpful to ease this attitude of pessimism. However, sooner or later, they steadily increase the dose and consume more. Hence they become drug addicts.” He avers that the family plays an important role in resolving the problem and they should pay more attention to their children. “Parents should be role models for their kids. Solutions can be found by building a friendly and hospitable environment at home, school and in society for the young. Seminars and activities can be conducted to discuss about the aftermath of drug use, sharing bitter experiences of past drug-addicts and their current improved lifestyle, educating about the effects and so on.” 

Hashim Bhugalee: “Drugs are easily available” 

Drug abuse among the youth is wreaking havoc in our island and concerned authorities seem to have no answer to this problem yet, states Hashim. “One of the main reasons why young people are getting into drugs is because of its low cost and high availability. Youngsters also delve into drug consumption because many parents fail to tackle this issue directly with their children.” He believes that in order to prevent young people from falling prey to drugs, there is a need to target homes and parents. “Social workers should educate and counsel youngsters. Short term imprisonment against young drug users can be an option.”


Agileswaran Durkka Darshan: “Lack of discipline in family life”

The main reasons, as observed by Agileswaran Durkka Darshan, are lack of discipline in the family, academic and professional spheres. “I strongly disagree that poverty and lack of education facilities are the main factors that causes drug addiction. Even today, in countries like India and China, children do still study under the brightness of street lights and candles.  Such countries have created legends. So why not Mauritius?”  According to the young man, prevention is not achieved merely by arresting drug smugglers and dealers but it is more than that. “The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Integration should really work together to find a solution for such a situation.   Implementation of a high discipline rule in our education system is very important.  Moreover, the laws dealing drugs should be very severe so that smugglers will abstain to trade for example in countries like Singapore, Morocco and Malaysia. Drug cases should lead to death penalty.”

News on Sunday also spoke to a young man who was addicted to drugs but who has fortunately been successful at removing himself from the clutches of addiction. Speaking under anonymity, he told us he was a serial smoker and found out that he was spending too much money on cigarettes. “Cigarettes are extremely expensive in Mauritius. The price is rising annually and youngsters who smoke can’t afford to buy cigarettes. This is why many of them switch to drugs. “Comparatively, drugs initially cost less than cigarettes. Thus, many youngsters tend to try drugs. Many drug peddlers, in their search for new clients, are even prepared to sell daily doses to addicted persons for cheap. Once these drug users become addicted, they are then forced to buy at market rates. So I personally believe the high price of cigarettes is a direct cause of increased drug addiction among youths. I wonder why government keeps increasing taxes on cigarettes when such taxes have almost no effect on the level of consumption,” explains the young man. When we asked him how he managed to free himself from the scourge of drugs, he replied that over time, he realised he was living only to enrich drug peddlers. Because of his addiction, his family ditched him and he lost all self-esteem in society. “ I then made up my mind that I will fight back and free myself and I succeeded. My advice to all youths is not to fall prey to drugs. Do not try any type of drug, even out of curiosity, because drug traffickers will always use all means to attract more and more customers so that their trade flourish. Remember, if there are no consumers, drug trafficking will die a natural death,” he advised. 

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