On Sept 19, The Star reported that the number of teenage drug addicts, especially in lower and upper secondary schools, has been rising over the past few years.To curb these rising numbers, some steps have been taken by the government and non-government agencies.
Reported The Star, one method being used by the government is testing the urine of students from schools that are afflicted with social and drug problems for the presence of drugs.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said this at a press conference on Nov 14, 2017.
“We have a programme with the police, National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada) and non-governmental organisations like the Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam). We are serious. We’ll only go to hotspots. Schools with no records need not worry,” he said.
While 1,410 students were found to have experimented with drugs from January to July this year, they are not categorised as addicts.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon explained to the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 13 2017, the reason behind this, is because addicts, dealers or those in possession of drugs, are referred to the police for investigation.
Instead, the students unlike their adult counterparts are being monitored and have to go for counseling sessions with the school counselor.
He said the ministry decided to only run urine tests on high-risk groups, (the procedure carried out by National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada)) as Nada does not have the apparatus or funding to conduct its own tests.
“It is not possible to run urine tests for all 4.7 million students nationwide as it would cost a lot and students who are not involved in drugs will be psychologically affected by the procedure. Furthermore, their parents would object to this procedure.”
Students who tested positive for drugs, will be sent to a school counselor for three months before having to do another urine test. If they test positive again, they will be sent to Nada’s experts for rehabilitation.
“Besides, most drug problems don’t happen in schools. It is the outside influence including the family’s social-economic status, and the crowd they mix with. That’s why we have to pay attention to those in high-risk areas.”
Another method is using government agencies such as National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada) and Cure & Care Service Centres (CCSC) to treat and help those with drug addiction problems.
Nada’s district offices, and Cure & Care Service Centres (CCSC) serves as a ‘halfway house’ (pusat pemulihan) for those with drug problems. From January to July 2017, it has seen more than 650 youths aged between 13 and 19.
As CCSC is voluntarily, addicts can stay at the centres or attend the daily programme.
Nada offers guidance and counselling, relapse prevention, social support groups, psychology education, religious, spiritual and value inculcation, medical care, health education, career development, social integration, home visits, and outreach programmes.
Although Nada mainly assists addicts released after treatment and those ordered by the court to undergo rehabilitation in the community, the institution also helps with underage addicts.
In addition to the previous two measures that have been mentioned above, Chong stated schools started carrying out anti-drug measures among students in 1986.
These include preventive education, and interventions, in and outside of class. All schools have a drug abuse prevention committee to coordinate the programme’s activities for the entire year. Together with Nada, some of the programmes that the ministry has carried out are:
> Sayangi Hidup Elak Derita Selamanya (Shields) for students found to have experimented with drugs.
> Program Intelek Asuhan Rohani (Pintar) for primary students in high-risk areas.
The Pintar programme, which started in 1998, aims to educate students on the effects and dangers of substance abuse, and build life skills and resilience.
“We have four-day camps involving as many as 50 students from every district who have been identified as being at risk,” said Dr Abd Halim.
The goal is to increase their assertive, coping, and stress-dealing skills, while increasing the involvement of families in guiding their children to overcome drug-related problems.
As a conclusion, till present there have been many steps that have been carried out by both the government and non-government agencies to ensure present teenagers (who will soon be Malaysian adults and be filling in the workforce) are free from the dangers of drug abuse that could paralyse the nation’s future.