Take a moment on June 26 to consider how drug abuse has the potential to tear apart families and even communities.
Since 1987, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has taken place on June 26 to raise awareness of this debilitating social problem.
Wedge Gardens rehabilitation centre, situated just outside of Johannesburg, supports the Listen First initiative. Its aim is to get adults to listen to children and youth because this is seen as the first step to helping them grow up healthy and safe.
Wedge Gardens social worker Karen Griessel explains that Listen First in an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.
“Conversation about drug use must start with children and youth to educate them about the realities they will face: on the playground, in their communities and later, even in their workplace,” says Karen.
Talk often and listen openly, she advises. “Conversations between individuals, schools and communities need to be promoted. Listen with an open mind, ready to learn and grow. Handle conversations respectfully, without judgement, assumption or bias.”
The Listen First project looks at demand and supply statistics, human rights, emerging challenges, new psychoactive drugs and national sentencing policies, with an obvious focus on prevention and treatment.
Karen says that last year 190 000 people died of drugs globally. This figure does not take into consideration the health implications – like TB, HIV and hepatitis – of those using drugs or the increased prevalence of drug trafficking and drug-related gangsterism.
According to the World Drug Report, synthetic and psychoactive drugs being spread through modern cybercrime and dark-net business deals is of concern. Development, health, peace and human rights are being attacked on a severe scale due to drug use worldwide.
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens).