Nepal: Discussing drug abuse in schools - youth centric programmes help in creating awareness
Drug abuse among youth is of rising concern. Initiation into drugs begins often during teenage years and usually peaks between 18 to 25 years. Peer pressure, curiosity and lack of awareness are often cited as the main reasons for youth getting involved in drug use. It is therefore essential to generate awareness and organize programmes in schools and colleges about the ill effects of drug abuse and addiction. The DAPC grant is one such initiative that focuses on drug abuse prevention activities amongst the youth. In 2012, an NGO based in Nepal - SAATH was awarded the DAPC grant to conduct drug prevention activities amongst school children in Nepal.
Under the grant, SAATH initiated a youth campaign led by 20 college students perusing their Bachelors in Social Work. The students organized drug prevention programmes across 30 schools in Nepal, reaching out to 1,500 school students. A mix of drama, song and quiz competitions was used to educate school students about drugs and the harmful effects of drug abuse. The theme of the programme was " learning to say no to drugs" and it encouraged dialogue between school students and faculty members. During an interactive session, students spoke about drug use, smoking and also inquired about drug rehabilitation centres for concerned siblings or other family members.
Following the success of this programme and in order to continue awareness generation in schools, SAATH initiated the 'SAATH council' - a council comprising 7 school students and 1 faculty member. 8 SAATH councils have been formed across 8 schools in Nepal and they carry out interactive programs on drug use, HIV/AIDS and other social issues. Students from the council write articles on these issues, talk to their classmates and generate awareness.
Additionally, SAATH also broadcasts youth centric radio programmes that focus on drug abuse. The programme titled ' The Human Face' is broadcasted in 35 districts in Nepal. The episodes highlight the current scenario of drug use in the country and present real life stories of people whose lives have been adversely affected by drug abuse. The programme brings in special guests who talk about drug de-addiction options available in the country.
Under this grant the NGO also conducted research on ' substance use among upper secondary school students in urban areas of Kathmandu'. The research assesses the prevalence of drug use among students and aims at understanding the factors that influence drug use including socio-demographic factors. The findings will give service providers a better understanding of the situation in Kathmandu and will inform drug abuse prevention programmes.
As stated by Lachhindra Maharjan, Executive Director, SAATH, "Campaigns targeting the youth, particularly school students are very necessary as it makes them aware of such problems at an early age and can prevent them from getting involved in drugs."
Drug Abuse Prevention Centre (DAPC) in Japan is an NGO that promotes drug prevention in many countries all around the world. The youth from DAPC mobilise communities and raise funds that they donate to UNODC to support activities to prevent drug use among youth in low and middle income countries.
To know more about the DAPC grant visit: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/prevention/youth-initiative.html
To know more about SAATH visit: http://www.saathnepal.org/