KKAWF for building better knowledge to save Pakistan's youth from drug abuse

11:02 PM | 25 Jun, 2020
KKAWF for building better knowledge to save Pakistan's youth from drug abuse
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As we observe the "International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking" today June 26, especially with the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, it is a stark reminder to the global community and to us in Pakistan to understand better the devastating consequences of not taking action to fight this enemy within. It is urgent to understand the drug dynamics which is trapping over 269 million people worldwide in a downward spiral, and over 9 million in Pakistan - and the numbers are rising with a 30% increase in drug use seen in 2018 according to the World Drug Report. Building Better Knowledge for Better Care. The theme of this year's World Drug Day aims to know better what the issues are so as to provide better care, health-centred, rights-based and gender responsive approaches to drug use and related disorders to deliver better public health.

Unfortunately, the field of addressing the drug problem over the years has been by misinformation of many kinds. People, policy makers and sometimes even services providers work on the understanding that drug use disorders are not a multi-factorial health issue, as agreed by the Member States in the Outcome document of the 2016

United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, but a moral failure or a crime to be punished. Moreover, what is not understood is that drug use disorders are the result of a complex interplay of factors that are very much out of the control of individuals, including factors in the genetics, mental health, and environment.

Drug use disorders should not, therefore, be considered self-acquired and deserving punishment. It is important to break the stigma around drug use and create knowledge for better health.

A better understanding of the reality which our society is facing can help policy-makers pursue evidence-based solutions. Research has shown that the adverse health effects of drug use are more widespread than previously thought. A more comprehensive understanding of the drug problem is needed, research and analysis are necessary to inform policy and enable international cooperation around evidence-based solutions.

The World Drug Day needs to highlight that substance use and other addictive disorders are a matter of public health. Addiction services should therefore be considered as essential and on par with other health services and merit similar level of attention and support.

Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation, a civil society organisation working to create awareness on prevention of drug and illicit substance abuse highlights the importance to work together to promote prevention awareness among youth, through social media platforms, art -quiz-essay competitions and virtual activities during the pandemic.

Despite the great harm that drugs and substance abuse cause to the physical and mental health of youth, not enough action has been taken in Pakistan to address this threat to the country's most at risk-our young population. This is reflected in the increasing use of drugs in the country, with Pakistan being the most heroin addicted country in the world.

Availability and diversity of more potent drugs is on the rise challenging law enforcement, posing health risks and complicating efforts to prevent and treat drug use disorders. According to reports youth between 9-12 years are using tobacco and 13-14 years old are on to drug use, especially in educational institutions across the country, where an estimated 50% students are reported to be using drugs. It is important for parents and teachers to listen first and be communicative to the youth in order to keep them away from leaning on drugs. The narrative against drugs needs to advance to effective action from just being a narrative.

On this World Drug Day, 2020 KKAWF resolves to join hands with international organisations, policy-makers, health professionals, media, to fight this social evil which is targeting our 135 million young population.

The youth have to be empowered to make healthy choices, as well as create family, school and community environments that promote and support healthy decision-making by youth. KKAWF commits to undertake and focus its campaign on combatting with solutions and solidarity the new and old harms that drug use brings.

Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation has been working in Pakistan since 2015 to disseminate knowledge and awareness on the adverse effects of drug use and help break the taboos that exist around drug use. It empowers youth and helps them to identify, understand and manage emotions, and stay away from drugs.