The Telegraph
Thursday , July 17 , 2014
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Campaign to sensitise schools on addiction

Drugs aren’t cool, say no to drugs, was the message from the Narcotics Control Bureau to school students at an awareness programme recently.

“Students get attracted to drugs because of stress factor and peer pressure. If someone they know has it and says there is no problem, they get into it. In fact, to be in a particular group, a student may imitate the kind of behaviour in that particular group,” said R.K. Sahoo, the deputy director general (eastern region) of the Narcotics Control Bureau.

An addict is a victim, be it out of curiosity or peer pressure. “Once he takes it, he becomes a victim of it. If someone takes alcohol once or twice, he or she is not addicted to it but over a period of time they can become alcoholic. But in the case of drugs, it doesn’t take so much time. Even if someone takes a small amount once, the body demands more of it,” he told teachers and principals at a programme on drug awareness at The Park, held in association with Faces and EduAims.

The Bureau stressed the need to highlight the darker aspect of drug abuse to dissuade students and counsel students to combat addiction. “Sometimes schools don’t want to report something because its reputation is at stake. But one boy in a class of 100 can contaminate not just his peers but fellows in junior classes also,” Sahoo warned, adding that counsellors must be well-trained too.

The importance of having a dialogue with parents was also discussed as the habit often starts at a fairly early age. “There is a need to make students aware and schools and colleges are where we can target most of them. When we approached schools, there was a genuine concern expressed by some of the authorities,” said Subrata Biswas, the zonal director, eastern zonal unit, Calcutta of Narcotics Control Bureau.

Imran Zaki, the president of Faces, said awareness is important given the susceptibility of students. “Children are vulnerable and sensitisation is important to tell them about the harmful effects of drugs.”

The next step is to organise awareness camps in schools. “We would also like to address parents because the school is not to be blamed always and parents need to share the responsibility,” said Jasjit Singh, honorary secretary of Faces.