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Drug abuse hit a risky high during pandemic, says UN expert
Thiruvananthapuram, Nov. 17: Drug abuse rose to dangerously high levels the world over during the COVID-19 pandemic mainly on account of the stress caused by the lockdowns and excessive use of internet, Marco Teixiera, South Asia Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said here today.
Mr Teixiera, who is attending the three-day international forum on “Right to a Drug-free Childhood,” said preliminary findings of surveys and studies conducted by UNODC suggested that drug abuse had risen to high levels during the pandemic.
He said periods of lockdown had driven many to drugs, posing a major challenge to those engaged in fighting the drug menace and running de-addiction initiatives.
“While nations are free to decide whether or not to legalize use of narcotic substances, each of them must consider whether their societies are mature enough to use narcotic substances with responsibility. If there is any flaw in this assessment, the outcome would be extremely disastrous,” he warned.
As many as 300 delegates from 60 countries are participating in the three-day conference, organised by the Fourth Wave Foundation in association with the UNODC, which concludes tomorrow.
There is at present a raging debate on the subject across the world. The UN is all for the debate, but it is also of the strong view that the decision of any decision should be based on sound understanding of the social psyche.
Mere academic achievements, Mr. Teixiera said, would not make nations capable of nurturing a healthy society. Efforts to foster drug-free societies should form part of the curriculum and become an important component of education.
“Teachers must get scientific training to detect nascent drug abuse among children and how drugs make their way into school campuses,” he said, pointing out that such efforts were underway in countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka under the aegis of the UNODC.
Anti-drug campaigns would produce positive results in the long-term only if society at large views the young ones who fall into the drug trap and criminality with empathy even while maintaining zero tolerance towards drug abuse, he added.
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