Drug abuse can be termed as the misuse of drugs and narcotics and extreme use of narcotics leads to addiction which is what drug addiction is essentially. Drug abuse is an ever-growing issue not only in Pakistan but across different parts of the world. The worst thing about drugs and narcotics is that it’s now considered to be one of the widely prevailing sicknesses among youth which is unquestionably alarming. In context of Pakistan, the use of narcotics among youth is dominating in contemporary times. Pakistani youth constitutes above 60 percent of the total population and this widespread use of narcotics among majority of Pakistani youth is terrifying. A significant proportion of Pakistani youth is suffering from the devastating and scourging effects of narcotics and drugs. The worst thing is that today’s ‘Youth’ is becoming the main target of drug dealers and smugglers. These drug dealers are enlarging their networks in educational institutions all over Pakistan now; to break the backbone of the nation. The dealers involved in these networks offer and sell narcotics among youth as symbols of purity, freshness and revolutions and such things which will bring out a solution to all their anxieties. At first, narcotics use seems to be eye catching and drug addicts find this hallucinating world very cool but it’s after effects are then faced by whole society. Youth is increasingly becoming addicted to different kinds of drugs which includes street drugs such as chars or hashish, heroine and other synthetic drugs.
Lack of family dynamics/ break up of traditional family systems is one of the leading causes. It’s true that today we have parted our ways from our values, culture and our traditional family systems. Life has become so busy that we hardly get time to have three times meals together on one table with either our family or loved ones. Sitting together for at least one meal, gives idea to parents what’s happening in their children’s lives and letting your kids discuss their individual issues with you being a parent help you point out what’s wrong with them as parents have a natural ability to read the faces of their children. Alas! we are adopting Western Culture and their ways of living slowly and gradually. Sooner or later we’ll realize the worth of traditional values of our society!
Lack of family attention, hectic routine of parents and a busy social life, due to which some parents are unable to give enough time to their children. They don’t even have the time to keep an eye on their children’s activities. As a consequence, neglected by their parents, their kids feel lonely and bored. In this way, it’s quite easier for them to try something new and exciting.
Sometimes causes to drug addiction also includes gaining a high or elite group status for example if there’s a group of six students and all belong to elite families except one or two students from that group who are not financially so good or belong to some poor or underprivileged area so when other 4 friends from elite group are doing something according to their social status like they attend parties, plan expensive outings or hangouts with friends then those two friends who’re not so financially good they do such things with them as well so that no one could come to know about their poor financial backgrounds and if their elite friends are injecting drugs they also have to do it being a part of that group in order to balance their status and fit in the ’elite jiger group’.
Absence of physical and sports activities in educational institutions including less entertainment programs apart from studies can be another reason for this growing concern of narcotics use among youth in educational institutions. When they find no such relaxation activities, they go to explore new gears of the world without realizing difference between good and bad.
Existing Statistics and Reports on Substance Use in Pakistan
According to a report by UN, about 6.75 million people are using drugs in Pakistan among which 78 percent are men and 22 percent are young girls.
A report by National Institute on Drug Abuse in the year 2014 highlighted another reason while conducting research on this increasing phenomenon that was some youngsters enter the fascinating world of drugs and narcotics due to their conservative environment and narrow mindedness of parents in several cases at homes which may lead them to become anxiety patients, so to come out of this depression they start using drugs or drinking alcohol which has adverse effects not on their social life but this effects their health also. They become weak and lose strength and their confidence is often lost in many cases and they become less communicative more likely to spend time alone and in dark.
Institutional Framework on drug abuse
Apart from these facts, the institutional framework is working in this context for past several years like Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Provincial health department, National Drug Regulatory Authority, Inter-agency Task Force and most importantly Provincial social welfare departments which specially work against drug dealers and counter drug abuse activities among youth in educational institutions. All these are contributing for supply reduction by tracing the drug trafficking networks, limiting the smuggling, trafficking and distribution of narcotics in the country and ensuring the strict control of chemical movements.
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR AND NARCOTICS CONTROL
This institution is responsible for coordination, policy making, planning and implanting the National Anti-Narcotics Policy by the consultation of other departments and ministries. It has also formed Planning and Monitoring Unit (PMU) for monitoring projects of development which are being financed by the public sector.
ANTI NARCOTICS FORCE (ANF)
Anti-Narcotics Force is a federal force which is cubing against the menace of drugs and narcotics. It is the leading Drugs Law Enforcement Agency to counter narcotics. ANF is working in terms of supply reduction by limiting the sources of drug dealers and strict control over the trafficking of narcotics within the country. ANF keeps a vigilant eye on the expansion of drug smugglers networks in trafficking of narcotics from our neighbor country Afghanistan by checking at borders and airports used for trafficking of narcotics and drugs. In the context of drug remand reduction (DDR), ANF organizes anti-drug walks, campaigns, lectures in different educational institutions, pet shows, youth conventions, hiking, drug burning ceremonies, youth ambassadors’ recreational trips, youth galas, awareness stalls, musical concerts, sports activities, workshops and anti-drug dramas for youth to participate in all these positive activities. The basic purpose of these activities is to engage youth in positive platforms by their massive participation in order to keep them away from evil tasks. ANF is also enhancing its research analysis on drug abuse with the collaboration of UNODC.
OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
In addition to the Anti-Narcotics Force, other federal and provincial level government entities are also working in drug supply reduction including the Provincial Excise and Taxation Departments, Airport Security Force (ASF), Frontier Corps (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan), Maritime Security Agency, Pakistan Coast Guards, Customs Services of Pakistan, Frontier Constabulary, and the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab and Sindh).
INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE
An Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) comprises of 27 federal drug control agencies and provincial drug control agencies established under the Chairmanship of the Director General of the ANF. The Task Force works in the implementation of the National Drug Abuse Control Master Plan. It coordinates for drug prohibition strategies and enhancing cooperation among the law enforcement agencies.
NATIONAL DRUG REGULARITY AUTHORITY
The National Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) is a body which comes under the administration of Federal Government. It was recently established to provide effectiveness coordination and enforcement of the 1976 Drugs Act.
Role of Educational Institutions in combating drug abuse among youth
Educational institutions’ role is very important in students’ grooming. But today educational institutions are lagging far behind in that matter. Almost everywhere there is no as such check and balance on the students’ activities as our administrators seem to be more concerned about money making and least about character building and training of their students.
Deficiency of checking system in Educational Institutions
This leaves a question mark on the working of administration that what they are doing? How they are grooming their students? What are they producing? No check and balance on the students because for them students studying in their respective universities are grown up and mature and they know their limitations and they know what’s good or what is bad. Actually we (including administration, majority parents and even our society) think that our youngsters get mature after their teen ages. But this stereotype is absolutely wrong this is actually the age when a youngster needs more attention of his/her parents. How is his/her company? Are they good people or not in a sense that either they are indulged in some kind of bad activity whether smoking, clubbing, drinking etc., parents must keep a check on all these factors. In our educational institutions, unfortunately students drink, using hashish and chars openly outside the departments in some specific places inside the university. Where is the administration? Now here question arises on the performance of administration that their students are destroying their lives and they are doing nothing. Students are using narcotics and drugs why they are not taking any action against such students and against those who are involved in selling them the substance. It is the responsibility of the administration to understand the fact that parents are spending a huge amount of money on their children just because their children could get not only quality education but quality environment as well. Parents earn for their children so that they can get better education and be able to earn in ten next years to give a helping hand to them but what if a youngster become a drug addict just because of the open environment of the University? Who provided the illegal illicit drugs to that student? Who is responsible either parents or University? Will the university take the responsibility of that student who has become a drug addict? Obviously no because they believe that whatever a student does outside the department is his / her own personal matter!
In addition to this, today our youngsters spend more time in educational institutions and less at homes that’s why educational institutions are accountable to provide their students with a safer environment to study. According to a recent report of an NGO working against drug abuse in Pakistan country wide, educational institutions in the capital (Islamabad) reveal a report that claims that 53% of students at elite private educational institutions are drug “addicts”, based on the findings and observations of a survey of 44 Federal institutions.
Concluding, increasing ratio of drug abuse among youth in educational institutions is an alarming issue for the whole society. Institutional framework should incorporate a system of check and balance on the educational institutions especially in those where there are greater chances for students to indulge in any illegal activity e.g.; our elite educational institutions. According to a research, about 60 percent of drug addicts belong to educated class and majority of them are students of universities which is matter of great concern for our universities. It’s true that socio – economic problems, depression, unemployment, anxiety, lack of awareness, bad company, lack of physical activities, break up of traditional family system, adoption of Western values etc. can be the reasons for our youth to take narcotics but these are not applicable in all cases, there is another major factor as well and that’s the easy and quick access of narcotics and drugs in our educational institutions today and presence of specific networks of of drug dealers functioning for the provision of drugs to youngsters inside the universities. Who are those people? Where do they come? What are their intensions? It is the dire need of time and responsibility of the administration of our educational institutions to find out and keep a check and balance on their students because a student becomes their responsibility when he/she enters the boundary of that educational institution so whatever happens to him/her , administration is responsible because if a student is using drugs during study hours in university then strict measures against any illegal act shall be taken at the moment. Now here many people rise question that how university can keep a check on all students if they have above 400 students enrolled in each department. Well the easiest and cheaper way can be arranging medical checkups and drug tests of students after every three or six months. Additionally, teachers can also play an effective role in this regard by creating awareness among students about the hazardous effects of narcotics use by showing them documentaries (besides studies) and arranging seminars. Strict rules and regulations should be introduced in every department of the respective universities and more entertainment chances should also be provided to students so that they can come out of monotonous routine and boredom factor. Last but least curriculum against narcotics should also be introduced in the syllabus of each semester so that students get aware of how drugs can drag them to hell.