Learn why young people take to drugs to solve the problem – UNICEF
Society must understand the reasons why young people turn to drugs rather than just punish them if it wants to solve the problem of addiction, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told an international conference on drug use today.
“It is time we looked at young people who use drugs as human beings, in need of support and not simply ‘drug addicts’ in need of correction,” Robert Bennoun, UNICEF Regional Adviser on HIV/AIDS, told the International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm in Chang Mai, Thailand.
“There is research suggesting a link between amphetamine use and increased vulnerability and risk behaviours, including the inherent risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS,” Mr. Bennoun said. “Unless society seeks to better understand why these young people are using drugs, the rates of infection through the sharing of needles and other unsafe practices associated with their drug-taking will lead to a rise in HIV/AIDS and other diseases.”
More than 800 delegates, including epidemiologists and leading narcotic experts from around the world, are attending this five-day event.
Young delegates from several Southeast Asian countries, sponsored by UNICEF, told the conference that attempts by society to rehabilitate them were not working, primarily because the underlying issue of drug addiction was not being addressed.
The number of young people using drugs was steadily increasing, and UNICEF said the advice of young people who use drugs must be acted upon to reverse the trend.
“There are many myths about why young people use drugs,” Joyce Djaelani-Gordon, a UNICEF-sponsored treatment expert from Indonesia, said. “Many think young people get their drugs from dealers, when in fact they get their drugs from their friends. That’s how it begins – they tried it, they liked it, they got hooked.”
The youth delegates said one of the many reasons so many of them used drugs was to escape the pressures they faced at home. “Society doesn’t accept young people who do drugs, so young people start to feel like they have no value…so they want to go back to drugs,” Ms. Weerayut said.
UNICEF said the use of amphetamine-type substances across Asia was on the rise. These drugs, including metamphetamines, were now the drugs of choice among young people who use drugs and the users of these drugs were getting younger.