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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Awareness Against Drug Abuse. (2003-6)

The saga of Pakistan's difficult journey through the quagmire of narcotics proliferation began with the emergence of its first heroin addict in 1979. Being a developing country with a small economic base, the gauntlet thrown by the drug problem with international dimensions, stacked all the cards against Pakistan, except one: the will-power and resilience of the people not to roll-over and die. From this point onwards there was no looking back for us in Pakistan.
The production of opium in 1980 had reached its peak of 800 metric tons over an area of 32,200 hectares. The robust counter drug measures taken by the ANF and other law enforcement agencies in Pakistan has successfully eradicated poppy cultivation in Pakistan, which has been declared as Opium Poppy-Free by the UNDCP in 2000-2001. As a Chinese saying goes that Journey of a hundred miles begins with the first step', our journey also began with the first step.
Pakistan's first operational counter-narcotics out-fit, the Pakistan Narcotics Control Board (PNCB) was created in 1973 with a strength of 833 personnel. In 1991, a second agency, the Anti-Narcotics Task Force was created to supplement the PNCB, both of which were later merged in 1995 to form the present day Anti Narcotics Force (ANF).The Anti Narcotics Force being the premier narcotics drug law enforcement agency and plays a crucial role in the interdiction of illegal drugs in addition to educating the common people about the ill effects of narcotics addiction. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse conducted in 1993, there were 3.01 million drug abusers in Pakistan out of which 1.52 were heroin abusers. Majority of the addicts were in the age bracket of 15-35 years. In order to update the data, a National Assessment Study on Drug Abuse was conducted in year 2000. It revealed that there are 5,00,000 hard core heroin abusers in the country out of which 15% are injecting drug users. Intravenous drug use has opened up the grave risk of triggering the HIVs/AIDs epidemic in the abusing as well as the general population through needle sharing.
Keeping in view the alarming situation the Government of Pakistan has approved a Master Plan at a total cost of Rs. 2.832 billion with objectives to make the country drug free by reducing the demand of illicit drugs, providing treatment and rehabilitation to drug addicts, controlling supply and production of narcotics substances, curbing smuggling and trafficking of narcotics substances. Out of the total outlay of Rs. 2.832 billion, an amount of Rs. 1.072 billion has been allocated for the demand reduction preventive component and treatment and rehabilitation health components.
In order to implement the Master Plan, the Government of Pakistan (ANF) is working on the following projects/schemes which are being implemented with the GOP funds, which are sanctioned under the budgetary head of 'Health'.
S. No.
Name of Project

Total Cost
Community participation in drug demand reduction

Rs. 19.400 Million
Creating Mass Awareness

Rs. 19.700 Million
NG0s Support Programme

Rs. 19.775 Million
Model Addiction T&R Centre, lslamabad

Rs. 17.112 Million
Up-gradation of three T&R Centre for drug dependent population in NWFP

Rs. 10.581 Million

Rs. 88.568 Million
In order to create awareness the ANF, utilizes various tools, for instance publicity through electronic as well as press media. Under the developmental schemes the following activities/programmes have been undertaken across the country:-13-Episode Radio Programme Titled as "Roshni Ka Safar", Printing of Anti-Drugs Awareness Poster and Stickers,Production and Airing of TV Video Songs, Spots, Documentary, Family Fun-Fair, Basant, 13-Episode Television Serial "Inkaar', Commemoration of International Days Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26th Haj Campaign, All Pakistan Essay Competition, Training Workshops, Seminars, Production of Anti Drug Awareness Promotional Items and establishment of a Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre for Drug Addicts and Networking of NGOs working in the field of Drug Demand Reduction.
BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF ANF'S DRUG DEMAND REDUCTION STRATEGIESThe drug abuse problem is a pervasive and multifaceted one and affects every aspect of the Pakistani society. Keeping in view the gravity of the situation, the ANF (DAPRC) has developed a comprehensive plan of prevention involving as many significant segments of society as possible. The effort at NAF has been to involve as many systems and strategies possible to disseminate the counter drugs message. It is crucial that these strategies be age/culture-specific, use appropriate language, and address all learning modalities. A comprehensive programme, offering not only information but peer support, healthier alternatives, family communication, seminars and community mobilization relating to drug use issues, can have a profound effect on community attitudes and behaviours towards drug abuse. It is essential that all important links of the society like the Government institutions and community organizations are activated. In order to design a well-balanced prevention programme, the elements of providing information, enhancing social competencies, providing better alternatives, improving policies and skill-development of key impactors have to be incorporated.
As part of a comprehensive prevention programme, information about the physiological, social and legal consequences of drug abuse can provide the basis for sound decisions. In order to be effective, an information programme must be proactive, provide opportunities for discussion and take into account the other sources of information (and misinformation) which are available. These include the media, personal experience and word of mouth. Some examples of providing information about heroin and other drugs which have been designed and implemented by ANF are:-
(a) Printed material like brochures, booklets, leaflets, posters, stickers. (b) Promotional items carrying anti drug slogans/messages like ball points, lead pencils, key chains, caps, t-shirts. (c) Developing of postage stamps, postal envelops for conveying anti drug messagesto the general masses.(d) Development of T.V serials, sports, songs and Radio dramas, to convey the anti drug message to the viewers and listeners, respectively.
In order to develop social competencies which enable an individual to function effectively in society, activities focusing on helping a person to develop self-confidence, self-esteem, interpersonal skills, clear and purposeful goals and values, self-control and the ability to build and maintain healthy peer relationships have been implemented.
Promoting healthier alternatives is based on the premise that people use drugs to meet a variety of social, emotional and physiological needs. Their needs are legitimate and therefore can be met in other ways which will both serve the individual and be acceptable to all concerned. In order to be effective, an alternative must be interesting enough for the target group and should be seen by it as better than drug use and offer the individuals a chance to learn life coping skills. For example, team sports can both fulfill the need for developing a sense of togetherness and personal achievement. Sports serve as the means for learning to deal with failures in a positive manner. A football or hockey tournament can offer opportunities for excitement and self-discovery as well as a practical lesson in cooperation, teamwork and clear communication in a fluid environment. Other alternatives can be any number of indoor and out door sports activities, like organizing tournaments for players as well as the match-viewers, establishing libraries for readers, skill development centres for those who want to use their energies in positive manners, entertainment outlets for those who want to avoid boredom and tiredness.
Public policy, in the form of laws and statutes is equally important in controlling the availability of drugs in a community. While the above two strategies are primarily concerned with the individual, reducing the likelihood of drug abuse problems by enhancing the level of personal functioning, public policy has to address all five elements within its prevention strategy which targets all vulnerable sections of the society. Public policy, in turn is influenced by the society itself through letters and lobbying by stake- holders.
The prevention of drug abuse requires a coordinated, multifaceted approach, one that strengthens families from varying ethnic, and socioeconomic circumstances, and rewards youth of all ages for a drug-free life style. As there is no single strategy or programme which in isolation can consistently and clearly communicate the message against drugs, the ANF has carefully selected the most appropriate mix of medias to reach each of the target groups keeping the demographic and socioeconomic indicators in view. Date of Issue (April 21, 2003)