Recommendation from youth to youth: keep off the drugs

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ABSTRACT
Introduction
International Good Templar Yonth Federation

Details

Author: D. ENDAL
Pages: 169 to 175
Creation Date: 1985/01/01

Recommendation from youth to youth: keep off the drugs

D. ENDAL President of the International Good Templar Youth Federation, Oslo, Norway

ABSTRACT

The International Good Templar Youth Federation, a non-governmental organization with branches and contacts in more than 40 countries in the world and a membership consisting of 200,000 "juniors" (7 to 15 years old) and older "youth" members has undertaken a worldwide campaign for developing a culture free of any kind of intoxicating substances, such as alcohol and narcotic drugs, and for promoting the development of drug prevention and social reintegration programmes. In its efforts to prevent drug and alcohol-related problems, the Federation promotes the development of appropriate information, education and national control policy measures, as well as encourages youth to participate in healthy activities that can serve as alternatives to involvement with drugs. Former addicts help in the development of rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes for drug addicts and alcoholics.

The International Good Templar Youth Federation organizations in Europe have recently launched a campaign called "European Youth against Cannabis", which places emphasis on the following three major tasks: to oppose any attempt to legalize cannabis; to provide information for their members about the harmful effects of cannabis abuse; and to keep all the activities free of any drugs.

Introduction

The current increase in the abuse of illicit drugs is a great threat to the health and social well-being of young people world-wide. Drug trafficking and abuse also present a threat to the social and political development of a large number of countries. It is, therefore, of vital importance to find ways and means of dealing effectively with drug problems among young people, who represent the group most affected by such problems.

The international character of drug problems has prompted the Governments of the countries concerned, as well as many organizations and institutions, to engage in concerted international efforts to cope with these problems. It is of special importance that the United Nations and the specialized agencies concerned provide effective co-ordination of such efforts at the international level. The role of national drug control policies that include the activities of national non-governmental organizations and efforts on the part of professionals, such as medical doctors, social workers and scientists, is essential in combating drug problems.

In this connection, a logical question is what young people can do for themselves at the local, national and international levels to win the fight against drug problems. To help answer this question, the accomplishment of the following two goals is essential:

  1. Young people must actively take part in the struggle; first of all, they must be involved at the "grassroot" level, among their friends;

  2. There should be some co-operation and co-ordination of young people's efforts at the international level, mainly to facilitate the exchange of experiences gained in the various healthy activities of youth at the national level, and to encourage the involvement of young people in such activities.

The International Good Templar Youth Federation, which is described below, is working to achieve these two goals.

International Good Templar Yonth Federation

The International Good Templar Youth Federation is an international non-governmental organization that deals with the prevention of problems related to drugs and alcohol among young people. It has branches and contacts in more than 40 countries all over the world, with a membership of approximately 200,000 "juniors" (7 to 15 years old) and young people in the older, "youth", age-group; in some countries the Federation involves adults as well, in co-operation with the International Organization of Good Templars. Its activities are rapidly expanding, particularly in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.

The name "Good Templar" dates back to 1850, when the movement was founded in the United States of America, and it means a person fighting for virtue, in other words a person fighting for the welfare of human beings.

Objectives

The International Good Templar Youth Federation, in co-operation with other youth federations, has undertaken a world-wide campaign to attain the following objectives:

  1. To work towards the development of a culture free of any kind of intoxicating substances, such as alcohol and narcotic drugs, and to promote the development of programmes for the prevention of drug and alcohol related problems (including drug informational and educational activities, as well as national control policy measures) and the rehabilitation and social reintegration of alcoholics and drug addicts ;

  2. To fight against war, torture, violence, oppression and other violations of basic human rights ;

  3. To establish co-operation between industrialized and developing countries in order to fight the unjust distribution of goods and economic and political power in the world ;

  • To promote international and intercultural contacts and understanding.

Conceptual framework

The International Good Templar Youth Federation has always considered that drug-taking is a wrong response to basic human and social needs. Escaping from reality does not help to solve personal and social problems. It is no real solution to flee into a cloud of smoke and declare that the visibility is better from such a viewpoint.

Young people should contribute to Creating a better society, in which there is no room for intoxication. The goal of society is to provide everyone with the opportunities to relax, have pleasure, make friends, find comfort and security by means of people's talents and not by means of chemical substances.

The International Good Templar Youth Federation supports the position that the human being is equipped with the ability to live a good life, in fellowship with other individuals. Drug abuse is a renunciation of these abilities and an obstacle to personal development. Intoxicated minds cannot help to build positive human interaction and social comfort : intoxication weakens people's senses, makes them lose their personal control and changes their behaviour.

A young person Can enrich his personality without drugs, with some training and the support of friends and others interested in helping him. The pleasure of trying, failing and succeeding provides a natural "high" and one that is always available. The chemical way of getting high is a costly one, controlled by drug traffickers who are only interested in making a profit.

There is no simple solution to the drug problem, nor is there a readymade cure ; but there are the various measures that, when implemented in a concerted manner, can contribute to the development of effective drug control policy, which includes drug legislation and effective drug law enforcement, and informational and educational activities : teaching youth how to derive pleasure from everyday activities without the use of drugs and how to cope with day-to-day problems. The International Good Templar Youth Federation also intends to encourage young people to contribute to creating a better society by fighting violence, unemployment, poverty and alienation.

But the most important contribution an individual, especially a young individual, can make towards the prevention of drug abuse is to help to secure drug-free surroundings.

The International Good Templar Youth Federation has assumed the special responsibility of encouraging young people to combat drug problems, but priority is given in its activities to Combating alcohol-related problems because alcohol is the most widely available and abused mind changing substance in the world today.

Main activities

The activities of the International Good Templar Youth Federation may vary considerably from one national branch to another, as well as among the local groups. Some of the main activities carried out by the Federation are listed below:

  1. Carrying out informational campaigns for the general public, selected target groups and government authorities at all levels ;

  2. Promoting the participation of young people in healthy activities, including discotheques, camps, social evenings and parties, which can serve as alternatives to drugs;

  3. Involving groups of young people in such activities as dancing, theatre, music, singing, handicrafts and photography;

  4. Designing and implementing educational programmes for leaders and members of the Federation, and for students and professionals, such as teachers and social workers;

  5. Carrying out - with the help of former addicts - rehabilitation and social reintegration programmes for people addicted to drugs and alcohol;

  6. Producing informational and educational materials, including posters, books, booklets, pamphlets, slide series, video programmes and records to be used in informational and educational campaigns for different audiences such as the general public, schools and study groups;

  7. Undertaking development projects in Asian and African countries, as well as carrying out fund raising campaigns to support these projects.

Alcohol-free and drug -free life-style

One of the aims of the International Good Templar Youth Federation is to help in developing an alternative culture to the environment centred around the use of alcohol and drugs. An alternative is offered to people who prefer a life-style without drugs. Against this background, the members of the Federation are obliged to abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Cannabis - the threat most frequently encountered

The youth campaign against the abuse of narcotic drugs recently launched by the Federation has pointed out that cannabis, including both hashish and marijuana, is particularly harmful to young people. The main reason for this is that cannabis is the illicit drug most widely abused by young people. There is, however, a certain confusion With regard to cannabis abuse : some young people say that they do not know anything about possible harmful effects of cannabis-smoking, while some others even say that scientists have proved that cannabis-smoking is harmless to ones body and mind, although scientific evidence clearly shows that cannabis smoking is extremely dangerous, particularly for the young. Taking into account that a large number of young people abuse cannabis, the threat of such abuse is sufficiently alarming to warrant special measures to be taken by young people to help themselves. In spite of research evidence about the harmful effects of cannabis abuse, young people do not know enough about such effects, even though they represent a large "high-risk" group and, for this reason, should be properly informed with regard to the subject.

Recent campaign in Europe

Some months ago, the International Good Templar Youth Federation launched a campaign called "European Youth against Cannabis". Several European countries have undertaken broad-scale national campaigns with the theme "Youth fights cannabis". In other countries, the traditional organizations have been involved in preventing the abuse of drugs, including cannabis. In a small number of countries, young people have been fully involved in these activities ; in some countries only the police and the customs are really involved, while youth, popular movements, traditional organizations and political parties seem to be more or less ignorant of the drug problems in their societies.

Within the campaign "European Youth against Cannabis", the International Good Templar Youth Federation organizations in Europe and a number of other youth federations, which have accepted the Federation's invitation to take part in the campaign, have adopted a declaration focusing on the following recommendations:

  • A considerable number of young people in Europe today are in a difficult and dangerous position because they have not found employment and have stopped believing that they will find any in the future. But young people should realize that drugs can never solve their personal, social or political problems; on the contrary, they can only increase them;

  • The international conventions in which the production, manufacture, sale and use of narcotic and psychotropic substances for non-medical purposes are declared to be illegal activities should be strongly supported. All national Governments should support and implement the provisions of these important conventions in their countries. The International Good Templar Youth Federation is prepared to oppose on an international level any attempt to undermine the aims of the international drug control treaties ;

  • Legislative measures, the police and customs control alone can never provide a complete solution to the drug problem. All national Governments are urged to attack drug problems on a much broader scale. The measures adopted to that end should include drug information and education ; social security for young people ; the development of effective prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes ; the provision of healthy alternative activities to drug use, as well as lending support to the United Nations in its efforts to Control drugs ;

  • Prevention is the only real solution to the problem of drug abuse; one of the best preventive measures is to keep as many youth activities as possible free of drug involvement. This requires that young people themselves actively resist drug abuse. The organizations of the International Good Templar Youth Federation are part of this resistance movement; these organizations consider it their obligation to keep all their youth activities free of drug abuse. All other youth movements and organizations are invited to join in these efforts ;

  • Current research has provided evidence that cannabis abuse has harmful consequences for the physical and mental health of young people because this abuse interferes with the essential functions of growth such as learning and psycho-social and physical maturation. It is important that broad groups of young people be made aware of this ; the organizations of the International Good Templar Youth Federation are prepared to provide for this among their own members and target groups ;

  • Researchers should be given better opportunities to examine problems involving cannabis more closely; these should include the promotion of research on epidemiology and the prevention of cannabis abuse, as well as the treatment and social reintegration of drug addicts. It is important, in this connection, to familiarize young people with any new research findings that may be obtained ;

  • It is important for youth organizations from the various countries to exchange information and knowledge on all aspects of drug abuse, particularly with regard to new developments in the drug scene and measures to Cope with drug problems.

Tasks

The main task of the campaign against cannabis abuse is to create an awareness of the problem and its implications for young people. The implementation of the declaration envisages the following three specific tasks for the organizations of the International Good Templar Youth Federation :

  1. To oppose any attempt to legalize cannabis ;

  2. To inform their own members about the harmful effects of cannabis abuse on the health and welfare of individuals and on the socioeconomic development and stability of society ;

  3. To keep all the activities within the organizations free of any drugs.

Achievements and expectations

The declaration of the International Good Templar Youth Federation has been distributed to international youth federations and to all the national youth councils in Europe. Some of the national branches of the Federation have established contacts and co-operation with other youth organizations in their countries. The Federation has received from its members positive responses and support, together with requests for more related information and materials.

It expects further positive responses and involvement of its members, as well as of other youth organizations, in the current efforts to cope with drug problems. Such involvement is realistically expected because young. people are undertaking the task of helping themselves to realize that the best they can do for their future is to avoid using drugs. It is also expected that young individuals will accept and agree with the recommendation of the declaration because it comes from people of their own age group.