Role of teachers, institutions in ending substance abuse underscored
Dimapur, Sep. 14 (EMN): The ARK Foundation in collaboration with Tetso College, Dimapur and supported by the Social Welfare department conducted webinars on substance abuse and prevention in Nagaland, for teachers and students of the college on September 11 and the 12th.
The moderator of the programme, Dr. Aniruddha Babar, in his opening remark shared his concerns about young people getting into tobacco use which gradually results in indulgence into harder drugs. ‘Such habit deteriorates the productivity and educational careers,’ he said and stressed on the importance to keep the youths and students away from such habits by imparting massive awareness campaigns on substance abuse as a primary preventive measure.
The Tetso College vice principal, Dr. Hewasa Lorin, said that substance abuse is a sad reality which is widely prevailing in the Naga society.
“Youths are our future, and that they need to be protected from this, by giving them the right guidance and advice, with an eco balance to propel the youth to make correct choices. But striking this balance is the main challenge. And therefore it has become increasingly important for educators to work together to reduce, curb, and hope to completely eradicate substance abuse” she said.
Pointing out that Nagaland has a high proportion of drug users which are mostly youths of today, she said it is important to divert their energy in healthier and productive lifestyles such as education, sports, arts, church and in other activities where they are interested in, by giving them more opportunities for these avenues.
The Northeast regional director of Kripa Foundation, Abou Mere, spoke on the importance of preventing substance use and its disorders among young people. According to him, teachers have a great influence over the students and therefore should present facts about substance use and inform them about healthy choices.
She further stated that ‘college does not have the power to stop substance use and its abuse but has the power to improve the knowledge of the students, their skills and influence their behavior to keep themselves away from substance use.’ It is important for teachers and students to have regular interactions as a mentor, and as a friend with a trust relationship will shape the student’s attitude and behavior that will help them remain drug free and build their positive quality to handle difficult situations, thereby developing healthy problem solving skills, she maintained.
It is important that the college provide a healthy and productive environment for the students and the young generation to grow in a better and peaceful environment to deter them from substance use, she added.
K Wango Langsym, assistant director of the Social Welfare department, opined that educational institutions should be a place for students to find solutions to their problems faced in their lives and a place where future generations are groomed and prepared.
He also highlighted the need for institutions to put mechanisms in place for substance abuse problems and called upon the institutions to collaborate with the department to generate awareness through difference platforms. He also shared the need to have proper data on the number of drug users for programme planning.
Ketho of ARK foundation in his presentation on the topic: “Substance abuse in Nagaland,” defined the definition of substance use as any substance when taken in turn modifies the person’s wellbeing. He also pointed out that there are two types of drugs -legal and illegal, which are regulated by the government.
He also shared the history of addiction in the state, various types of drugs and the major concern where youngsters are initiating on some substances which are termed as “gateway drugs” such as sniffing of dendrites, use of tobacco and nicotine products, and other volatile or inhalant substances.
He said that there are multiple reasons why people take drugs such as curiosity, peer pressure, frustration, experimental, recreational purpose, poor upbringing, inferior complexity, and easy availability. The reason, he said, was rampant use of pharmaceutical drugs in the form of cough syrup.
From a management and prevention perspective, he mentioned that primary prevention is the ‘key’; people should be made aware of the harmful effects of drug use and not to ever get introduced into substance use and treatment through rehabilitation for those who are already in the addictive stage.
He concluded his presentation by mentioning some signs that can be observed in a person who is starting or into repeated drug use, and some tips to prevent the youngsters from keeping away from being introduced to the first substance use experience.
He said that addiction in the state has resulted in loss of lives and has created a social menace in the larger society and in Nagaland for more than four decades.
Off late, he said the trend of the substance use is gaining popularity among the youth populations and the incidence is ever increasing. He urged the students to be aware of the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol use and never to initiate the first use but to rather focus on their educational careers and other productive activities rather than resorting to experimenting with substance use.
He also shared various types of gateway drugs like volatile solvents, dendrites, tobacco and nicotine and cautioned the students to be aware of such substances as it may result in a more progressive habit. He said the major concern was youngsters initiating such substances without understating the lethal complication it brings.