Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Families must help fight drugs abuse

Lee Lam Thye, New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur

Since the 1980s, the government has launched various anti-drug dadah campaigns and spent hundreds of millions of ringgit to tackle the menace, but the problem is far from being eradicated.

Victory is nowhere in sight. The statistics on drug (dadah) users are mind boggling, and worsening. National Dadah Agency (ADK) studies show 235,495 addicts have been identified over the past 30 years.

Taking into account that for every one identified addict there are three unidentified, the actual figures are far too serious to be ignored.

Clearly, no one party can help to overcome the menace. The government needs not only the support of non-governmental organizations, voluntary bodies and religious organizations but also the family institution, the basic unit of society, to curb the problem. The time has come for families, particularly the parents, to be given focus in the fight against drug abuse.

We need to create more awareness among parents, educate and empower them to play a more pro-active role to help their children in drug abuse prevention.

The National Anti-Dadah Parents' Movement Assembly initiated and organized by the National Dadah Agency in Kuala Lumpur on July 26 was indeed a step in the right direction.

As pointed out by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, parents have an important role to provide a stable and conducive home environment to help their children stay dadah-free.

Before we can expect the parents to play their role, they must be made aware of their responsibilities to ensure their children and homes are free of drug abuse.

Parents should be knowledgeable about drugs and drug abuse. They can learn more about the problem by attending or participating in activities and programs organized by government agencies like the ADK or by NGOs like Pemadam.

Parents should teach their children that drug abuse is filthy and should be treated like excreta. They can act as counselors to their own children once they become more knowledgeable about the subject.

If they find their children are involved in drug abuse, parents should not pretend the problem does not exist. They should seek help from the ADK or other relevant authorities.

Parents whose children are in rehabilitation centers should find time to visit them and give them the support to undergo rehabilitation. When the children are released from the centers, parents should not neglect or ignore them but help them turn over a new leaf.

Gatherings or assemblies of concerned parents should also be organized at the state and district levels to mobilize them to support the government in its efforts to make Malaysia free of drug abuse by the year 2015.