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Young People in danger of drug abuse

Author: Vientiane Times Reporters
Published: 28/06/2011
Newspaper section: International Cooperation

Some 40,000 people are addicted to amphetamines and 1.4 million young people are considered to be in the highrisk category for drug abuse, President of the National Committee for Drug Control and Supervision (NCDS), Mr Soubanh Srithirath has said.

His comments were made yesterday morning while attending a run from Patouxay Monument to Horkham Palace in Vientiane to mark the 24 th anniversary of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26).

Under the slogan "Global Action for Healthy Communities without Drugs", this year's campaign aims to mobilise support and inspire people to act against illicit drug use.

Youth are at risk of becoming involved in drug abuse because of a combination of curiosity and a lack of knowledge about the damaging effects of drugs. Young people need to be educated on this issue and the NCDS has developed a strategy to raise awareness of drug abuse and cope with its effects, Mr Souban said.

Currently, the committee is collaborating with international organisations to provide information about the adverse effects of drug use to the National University of Laos and the provinces of Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet and Champassak.

Mr Soubanh feels that circulating information about drug abuse should be continued to inform youth about its effect on society, families and parents. However, the committee still faces challenges because the land used to grow opium poppies has expanded from 1,900 to 3,000 hectares, even though the government has pledged to eliminate cultivation.

Poverty has been identified as the main reason that people continue to grow poppies, and eradication efforts have not been aided by an increase in the price of opium from US$600 to US$1,600 per kg.

The NCDS continues to work in communities to change behaviour and cooperates with neighbouring countries to stop the import and export of illicit drugs.

Every year, an estimated 210 million people around the world use illicit drugs and almost 200,000 die as a result. However, despite the challenges posed by drug use, the impact on society can be mitigated, according to the website of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC).

UNODC reported on seizure figures for Laos in 2008-2010, during which time authorities confiscated 24.5 million amphetamine tablets, 86.5kg of opium, and 84.34kg of heroin.

Some 51 percent of the Lao population is under 20 years old, and are considered to be at high risk of drug abuse.