UAE communities urged to help youth say no to drugs

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Dubai - Ministry rolls out drug use prevention guidebooks for parents, schools.

By Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 26 Jun 2021, 7:15 PM

The UAE has zero-tolerance for drug abuse. On Saturday, International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, top officials and experts led discussions on how everyone — from homes to schools — can do their part in protecting the country against the drug menace.

Lt-Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, on Saturday tweeted his gratitude to the community for their efforts in fighting drugs.

“On the International Anti-Drug Day, I would like to thank and appreciate everyone who contributed to protecting himself, his family, his community, his country or the world from the scourge of drugs. I thank the UAE Anti-Narcotics Council headed by Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan for their excellent results and I warn those who are the enemy of humanity that they will not rest in the Emirates,” he said in a tweet.

Sheikh Saif also witnessed the virtual launch of two guidelines that are aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.

One is the ‘Guide to Drug Prevention at Schools’, which provides readable, practical information, data and illustrations that can help educational institutions address problems related to the danger of narcotic substances.

The other is the ‘Parents’ Guide to Drug Prevention’, which bolsters the role of families in keeping the youth away from narcotics. It highlights way to inculcate moral values and hone youngsters’ personal skills to enhance happiness and positivity.

These guidebooks were a result of the collaborative effort between the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Education, in partnership with several national institutions.

Major-General Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Commander-in-Chief of the Abu Dhabi Police, stressed the importance of concerted efforts between institutional and societal bodies to stand against drugs.

Family, he said, serves as the ‘first line of defence’ against drug dangers, playing a crucial role in taking children to safety.

Maj-Gen Al Mazrouei pointed out that the anti-drug force of the Abu Dhabi Police is working round the clock to protect the community from drug dealers, who use all means to target the youth and bring their ‘poison’ into the society.

On World Anti-Drug Day, major malls across the city, like the Dubai Festival City Mall and Mall of the Emirates, held on-site campaigns that urged everyone to take a firm stance against drugs.

Experts and psychiatrists in the UAE agree that awareness is crucial in drug use prevention.

Dr Arun Kumar K, psychiatrist at Aster Clinic, Bur Dubai and Aster Hospital, Qusais, said: “Rates of drug addiction are much lower in countries with strict rules like the UAE. Basically, a person remains unaware that they are getting dependent on a drug or substance and they remain in denial for a long time.”

He added that parents have to watch out for suspicious behaviour or mood changes in their children. “(They must also be on the lookout for signs like) aggressiveness, sleep and appetite disturbance, as a lot of addiction cases begin at younger stages. However, deaddiction also has various phases and people should seek proper assistance at the earliest.”

Dr Shaju George, psychiatrist at the Dubai Community Health Centre of Medeor Hospital Dubai, said prescription drug abuse could also be part of the problem.

“I, as a person, have zero tolerance towards drug abuse clients because most of them visit doctors with the sole intention of getting a refill prescription of those medicines they abuse. They will never be accompanied by responsible family members and usually don’t show any interest in taking proper treatment to get out of this problem. The UAE government has come up with a very good initiative like the National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi and Erada in Dubai to help and treat people who are victims of drug addiction.”

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