Alcohol and drug abuse are one of the greatest challenges and causes of mental health problems amongst youths in Goa. Recent studies show that there is an increasing trend in alcohol and substance abuse especially amongst the youths in secondary schools, colleges, and universities.
The incidence of substance abuse disorders among the children has assumed epidemic proportions. There is a critical need of addressing the issue as it threatens to erode the fabric of our social order with our future generations falling a prey to this noxious habit. Children are a most valuable asset but statistics present figures that portend a scary situation.
- A study conducted by the Goa State AIDS Control Society (GSACS) has made some startling revelations. The study reveals that even children aged 12 years abuse drugs orally and by the time they are in their twenties, take to intravenous drugs. Many starts by smoking cannabis when at school and later shift to ecstasy and even heroin and brown sugar to get a ‘definite high’. The study also states that some drug users work as peddlers, motorbike pilots, guides/masseurs or barmen in shacks. Incidentally a majority of them also report high-risk sexual behaviour. The mean age for sexual debut is estimated at 19 years of age, with some having their first sexual experience at the age of 17 or below.
- Psychologists warn that children with substance abuse are prone to deteriorating mental health and increasing susceptibility to aggressive behaviour, crime, violence, depression and indulgence in self-injurious behaviour.
- The complexity of the phenomena of drug use makes it pertinent that multi-pronged strategy is devised. Studies have shown that effective drug education programmes have reduced the need for treatment programmes which are expensive and agonizing at times.
- This problem arises from many factors which include: technological developments, lack of employment for the new graduates, poor parenting or upbringing of children, loss of sense of belonging, identity and meaning, peer group and environmental pressures. In an effort to address these problems many youths have sought refuge in alcohol and drugs. This has left many parents and teachers wondering about the future youths in this country. In most instances the problem is compounded by parents living in denial.
The “Yes to Life” campaign will contribute to this process. The campaign will aim to increase awareness on the dangers of drugs among school children, to identify and support anti-drugs youth ambassadors, to increase youth participation in drug prevention, counselling and rehabilitation services, and finally to contribute to the reduction of drug/alcohol abuse among youths in the State of Goa.