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PREVENTION OF DRUG ABUSE

The complex nature and multiplicity of factors that contribute to the emergence of drug abuse
calls for a major departure from relatively simple approach to the prevention of physical illness
due to such condition as infections. Drug abusers, for example, far from being the unwilling
recipients of a pathogenic invasion, actively procure the offending agent.

The United Nations comprehensive multi-disciplinary outline of future activities in drug abuse
control also emphasizes the multidimensional causes of drug abuse and the necessity of
multidimensional and multi-disciplinary approach in prevention that takes into account the drugs
being used, the abuser, and the psychological, social, cultural and economic setting in which drug
abuse occurs. It emphasizes the importance of paying equal attention to supply and demand reduction
as well as focusing on motivation for healthy life styles and deterrence to drug abuse (UN 1987).

The objectives of a prevention programme should therefore include reduction of supply, reduction or
elimination of demand for illicit drugs, and creation of a socio-cultural climate that promotes healthy
life styles that are superior alternatives to the cheap, fake and transitory pleasures and comforts
that drug abuse provides.

Reduction of supply involves the suppression or eradication of sources of illicit supply of drugs such
as cultivation, production, transport/ sale and in any other way that contribute to the availability
of illicit drugs.
Demand reduction involves preventing or discouraging people from developing interest in abuse
of drugs, as well as treatment and rehabilitation of addicts.
The underlying objectives of such measures are promoting and maintaining the health of the
individual; the mind, the body, and the social sphere; promoting and maintaining the social
fabric at the family, community and national level is equally important. Promotion and
maintenance of political stability and security is Crucial. On the other hand drug abuse can
undermine political and social stability.
Essential elements of prevention programmes include long-term sustained activities integrated into
normal activities of education, leisure, cultural pursuits, work and spiritual recourse. Short-lived
projects are of limited value and may be counter-productive. National commitment is therefore a
necessary component of successful drug prevention programmes
The comprehensive multi disciplinary outline emphasizes linking the two approaches, thus
breaking the link between supply and demand.

Experience in drug demand reduction indicates that successful programs are those that address
individuals on every locus along a continuum of risk of being exposed to drug abuse and getting
into drug seeking behavior. The continuum of risk of drug abuse is from no risk, low risk, moderate
risk and high risk. Individuals in low risk are not yet exposed to drugs, those at high risk are already
dependent on drugs (Eliany and Rush 1992). It is important, therefore, that the necessary variety of
demand reduction programs should be operating in the community, involving as many sectors as
possible, all providing consistent message and opportunities towards drug free life styles.

Assessment and monitoring of extent of drug abuse


A description of extent of abuse, definition of risk populations and analysis of factors influencing
drug abuse are essential components of planning preventive measures and monitoring progress
and evaluating the impact of preventive activities. Machinery for monitoring availability of
illicit drugs and trends of abuse is an important aspect of this
Components of Demand reduction:
Government responsibility

National policy makers should be sensitive to the problem and needs for programme changes and
should support adaptations and innovations in demand reduction (ICAA-1988), To facilitate and
stimulate these, the National Drug Abuse control Commission in Tanzania should ensure
periodic review of the drugs problem and of existing programmes of demand reduction. The
commission should encourage adaptation and innovation through guaranteeing the continued
availability of resources to the programmes whether material, personnel or in financial form.
Procedures should be developed to assist programme managers and service providers (e.g. Ministry of
health) to identify and analyze adaptations and to assess how the process of adaptation, based on
continuous feedback, may be used to improve programmes and services.
The commission should foster cooperative approaches between demand reduction
programmes including wide involvement between different specialists and concerned
persons. Similarly law enforcers should cooperate responsibly not only in their supply
reduction endeavors, but also link well with demand reduction programmes.
Socially
There are two ways: To reduce availability and to reduce the need to use drugs. Reduction of
availability may be of more on what types of drugs are
used than the amount used. Demand reduction on the other hand involves many social agencies.
A holistic approach is thought to be more effective in reducing the need to use drugs.
Although drug information is not effective in prevention,
it still must be given, together with comprehensive social competence strategies. And this can be
treated just like another problem in adolescent life. Preventive work at its best is connected
with whatever work or activities already being done by youngsters. It should be part of the
environment in which the youngsters already are.
It is important to find out how many youngsters belong to high risk groups, especially youngsters
who have been abused by adults when very young and who have failed to experience adult help.
Also important is how the psychological and social well-being of these youngsters is being taken
care of.

Community
Another very vital component is community involvement and community mobilization against drug
abuse. The degree of community permissiveness and tolerance of drug abuse influences the
extent of drug abuse in the community. Community action at the grassroots is also very effective in
reducing demand for drugs of abuse

Education
Education with regard to promotion of healthy drug free lifestyles may be targeted to individuals
within formal and general education system, as well as their families and communities.

It is also important to make a distinction between information and education. In addition to


providing knowledge, education also entails an attempt to transmit or change attitudes and
values of individuals and society. Education goes beyond acquisition of knowledge to learning of new
patterns of behavior. It involves the whole community in transmission of behavior related messages.
Education, therefore, has more enduring and fan-caching effects (UNESCO 1987).

It is important at the outset, however, to inform the public and policy makers of the harmful effects of
drug abuse to be able to gain support for policy development, for necessary legislation and to sustain
educational programmes.

.
"Prevention through education should be considered as a continuous process, the objective
of which is to seek and improve understanding of the long-term and immediate causes of recourse
to drugs; to help young people and adults to find solutions to their difficulties and lead their lives
without resorting to drugs. Indications are that the impact of preventive education is greatest
when it:

a. Takes place in its appropriate social, economic and cultural setting;

b. Is integrated into overall framework of academic, social and cultural setting;


c. Promotes a healthy drug-free life style as a primary goal, as opposed to placing emphasis on
abstinence from drugs and on negative effects of drug abuse;

d. Reaches individuals before they are exposed to the drug sub-culture and other influences that
contribute to initial drug use;

School
Schools can do a lot by providing youngsters with opportunities to develop their social participation
and their personal potentials. When doing this schools are indirectly doing good drug prevention. It
is easy to talk about drugs while integrating with existing school subjects such as health
education, culture, social science and psychology. The teachers opinions are very important to their
students, so much that teachers must recognizes everybody even when meeting outside the
school or on the way to school. It gives the youngsters a feeling of importance

Management of free time


One of the established causes of deviant behavior in the young is poor management of free time.
Therefore any type of work which helps youngsters to grow into well balanced adults is an important
component of prevention against drug abuse. It is important to try to draw youngsters who are isolated
and alone together with the better adjusted youngsters during free time activities. This may
improve self esteem and provide a chance for social learning through the group.

Other Avenues
The workplace provides a unique situation to emphasize the harmful effects of drugs
and alcohol such as loss of productivity, low efficiency, increased accidents, possible loss of
livelihood and the like.
Non-governmental organizations, civic groups and religious organizations can be powerful
agents for change. They need effective co-ordination to ensure consistency with the overall
national approach.
The community and relevant national agencies should promote community recreational and
cultural activities that provide alternatives to drug abuse. Healthy recreation and sports can
contribute immensely to improving social adaptation, sense of responsibility and enhanced
self-esteem.

The mass media are powerful agents of information and change in the "community. Again
quoting from the CMO (UN 1987):

Common ingredients of successful prevention programmes


 Have a clear goal of no use of illegal drugs.

 Treat young people as individuals and address their individual needs.


 Provide information that is factual and credible. Recognize cultural differences
and tailor their strategies accordingly.
 Teach young people to be responsible for their actions.
 Are led by dedicated men and women who have the capacity to be both tough
and compassionate.

Summary:

Important aspects of drug abuse prevention are


Demand reduction and Supply reduction however demand reduction includes
important aspects like; Government responsibility, Education, the
community/Society , school and Management of free time.

Questions:

1. Define the following;


a) Drug abuse
b) Addiction
c) Withdraw syndrome
d) Demand reduction

2. Mention at least 3 components of drug prevention