As we, in Pakistan joined the world community to commemorate International Day Against Drug Use and Illicit Trafficking or World Drug Day, the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation organized an interactive, awareness – raising, knowledge-building activity focused on highlighting prevention education for young students from Schools in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Sunday June 26th at the Rose and Jasmine Garden, Islamabad. Despite the summer heat, over 150 students and teachers, along with community members and friends of KKAWF engaged in art and sports activities to channel youth energies and build protective factors to learn the importance of saying NO to Drugs. The students painted colourful posters and enacted charades to express their learnings around the menace of drug use.
Drug use is taking a heavy toll on youth especially students in Pakistan and fueling a life of addiction and crime in the country. It is a bitter fact that a huge number of the young generation in Pakistan use narcotics, in particular in educational settings. A rapid increase in drug addiction among students of academic institutions has emerged as a serious social problem confronting the contemporary Pakistani society that constitutes one of the highest proportions of young people in the world. With an estimated 9 million drug users and 4 million addicts in Pakistan, according to projections by the Ministry of Narcotics Control, the bulging youth population of 130 million boys and girls under 30 – 64% of the population in Pakistan will be hard hit by the rise in use of drugs.
Speaking at the well-attended event, Cristina von Sperling Afridi, Chairperson KKAWF emphasized that concentrating on prevention awareness and knowledge is the only safeguard for the community and only alternative for the youth to build a system of self-defence which protects them from getting trapped in the world of drugs. The more aware the youth are of the wide range of issues surrounding drugs, the better chance they have of preventing its spread.
“It is time that we in Pakistan should collectively focus on the power of prevention to educate our school going teenagers on the dangers of indulging in the use of recreational drugs”, she added.
She highlighted that if no action is taken, the number of drug addicts around the world is expected to increase from 276 million, in the coming years, to over 300 million drug users in 2030 as noted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). With half a million people losing their life to drugs in 2019 – and projected to grow in countries with high population growth, like Pakistan. it is time to measure the way we are heading, she added. Removing stigma, raising awareness and amplifying the urgency of drug prevention education is a must if Pakistan wants to win the war on drugs.