Early prevention strategies
THE world drug problem is much worse than in previous generations. According to the United Nations World Drug Report 2022 there are 284 million people aged 15-64 using drugs worldwide in 2020, showing a 26% increase over the previous decade, with adolescents and young adults accounting for the largest share of users. More people are using drugs, and there are more drugs, and more types of drugs, than ever.
The social, economic and public health costs of this alarming situation continue to be very high. However, this burden is preventable. The best tool to protect people, especially the young population, is by strengthening drug use prevention strategies. It is an utmost priority to develop national drug prevention systems that reach children as early as possible in their development and focus on building resilience.
The future of the youth is inextricably linked to the effectiveness of early prevention strategies. In today’s world, young people face a range of challenges that can impact their physical and mental health, academic success and overall wellbeing. Early prevention strategies are critical for addressing these challenges and setting youth on a path towards a healthy and successful future.
One area where early prevention strategies are particularly important is substance abuse. In countries such as Jordan and Pakistan, drug abuse among young people is a growing concern. To achieve a drug-free future for our youth, it is crucial to invest in effective early prevention strategies.
In Jordan, there is a need to improve our prevention strategies to address the root causes of substance abuse among young people. This could include investing in early childhood education and offering career guidance and mentoring to help youth develop a sense of purpose and direction. Additionally, there is a need to increase access to mental health services to address underlying mental health issues that can contribute to substance abuse.
Similarly in Pakistan, early prevention strategies could include education on the risks and dangers of substance abuse, implementing policies to reduce access to drugs and alcohol, and providing support for those struggling with addiction. Additionally, promoting physical activity and healthy eating habits in schools and communities can help prevent chronic health problems that can contribute to substance abuse.
Overall, early prevention strategies are critical for ensuring the future of youth. By investing in education, mental and physical health and violence prevention, we can set young people on a path towards a healthy, successful future. In countries such as Jordan and Pakistan, there is a need to improve our prevention strategies to effectively address the challenges facing our youth, including substance abuse. Only by working together to invest in the future of our young people, can we achieve a drug-free future and ensure their long-term success.
With a youth bulge estimated at 154 million under 30 population, along with an estimated 09 million drug users and around 04 million addicts (MoNC 2015 survey), Pakistan has hard challenges to protect its young population. To counter this situation, the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation (KKAWF), since 2015, has been using the power of prevention awareness to educate the youth on building life-skills and working to prevent the acceptance of drug use.
KKAWF is playing a critically important role through its policy advocacy efforts to impact on the development of a rights-based national drug policy. It continues to lobby for drug prevention awareness in school curriculum, mandatory counselling services in schools and has supported the government in making recommendations for effective legislation on the issue of drugs.
To effectively address the ‘world drug problem’ there is so much we can do together to help the youth stay healthy. We cannot let narcotic drugs and drug abuse be an accepted part of one’s life. We need to take action now for a better future.
—The writer is President, Jordan Anti-Drugs Society.