Comment: Drug abuse prevention saves lives and cuts costs

It is unacceptable for us to think that we can ignore the drug problem and it will just go away.

We are a country still living in deep denial about drug use by youth.

Journey believes that the three sentences destroying youth – more than any other sentences known to man – are, “Not my child, not in our school, not in my island.”

Today we cannot afford to ignore this problem or assume it is not going on in our households, our schools and our communities. We have yet to rid our homes, schools and communities of drugs.

Journey is not stating that nothing has been accomplished. Rather, we need to have a very critical look at what we have done to oppose drug abuse in the past and reevaluate our steps. We need to leave behind our ideologies about what works in theory and instead accept the evidence-based methods that have made a positive impact in other parts of the world.

Our focus needs to shift from simply strengthening treatment to implementing a strong evidence-based prevention strategy. But unfortunately we are living in a country where prevention is still not a top priority, even though evidence proves that every 100 MVR (US$ 6.55) spent on prevention saves 1,000 MVR (US$65.49) on treatment.

Research shows preventing drug use before it begins is the most cost-effective, common-sense approach to promote safe and healthy communities. Preventing drug abuse, particularly by injecting drug abusers, reduces the rate of HIV transmission through unsterilised needles creating safer homes and communities. Simply put, drug abuse prevention save lives and cuts costs.

When we choose to ignore the drug problem in the Maldives, we continue to lose children (and adults), which Journey finds unacceptable. The ongoing drug crisis in the Maldives has taken many years to develop, and there is no quick fix, but ignoring [the crisis and failing] to identify and intervene is a serious problem. Scientific research proves drug addiction to be a progressive disease which starts during early adolescence.

We all want our children to grow up to be honest, successful and healthy adults who make valuable contributions to our society. But sadly, all of this could be put at risk when young people are offered drugs before they are mature enough to grasp the magnitude of the consequences of their actions. It saddens Journey to see people suffering because of the results of these actions.

Journey is very concerned about the damage and pain drugs cause individuals, families, communities and it’s an issue we consider significant. That is why our new evidence-based universal prevention program “RISE” will place particular emphasis on educating Maldivians, especially young people and their parents, about the negative health and other effects of drug abuse, while also enhancing their skills to deal effectively with issues that may instigate drug abuse.

Today’s youth are in desperate need of positive role models. We all must look at our own actions and ask ourselves if this is what we want our children to follow.

It isn’t an easy task and it is going to take time to accomplish what we need to for our children.

We believe our children deserve nothing less. It’s also our firm belief that together we can help young people make healthy choices. Let us encourage them to stay alert, engaged and to grasp every opportunity that will help make them build a nation free from drugs.

Thank you.

Journey is a Male’ based NGO formed by group of Maldivian recovering addicts with a mission to help other addicts to maintain their recovery and to raise public awareness on drug addiction and its related issues.

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2 thoughts on “Comment: Drug abuse prevention saves lives and cuts costs”

  1. I see no body is brave enough to say 'Well done!' Congratulations for having the courage to open up the discussion on drug abuse in the Maldives.

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