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Saturday, 29 June 2013 00:00

Anti-drug Education and Awareness

Written by  By Siow Lee Kien & Chin Kee Keu, Petaling Jaya / Translated by Ng Say Fen

Teacher He Jun Hui (centre) explained that the effect of drugs is like a piece of crushed paper that can never be smoothed back to its original state.【Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee】

Tzu Chi University and University of Malaya (MU) have jointly organized an "Anti-drug Education and Awareness" campaign in schools and communities. On June 29, 2013, a training camp was held to teach Tzu Chi volunteers to be trainers in this campaign.


In 2010, Taiwan's Ministry of Justice and Tzu Chi University jointly organized a nationwide anti-drug educational road-show that provided training to those interested in joining the anti-drug campaign. Participants were from the legal industry, Drug Prevention Centre, Tzu Chi and others.

University of Malaya is one of the sister universities of Tzu Chi University. Prior to this event, the Medical Faculty of both universities had collaborated on the Silent Mentor Programme. In March 2013, Dr Anne Yee from University of Malaya Center of Addiction Sciences (UMCAS) visited Tzu Chi University, Da Ai TV and Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital. She also attended anti-drug campaigns held at the University, army camp, prison and so on.

Dr Ahai C. Lua, Vice President of Tzu Chi University, welcomed Dr Yee and informed her that Tzu Chi University is conducting a training course and equipping students with anti-drug knowledge. In his discussion with Dr Yee, Dr Lua found out that drug abuse is a serious problem in Malaysia, and recommended that MU and Malaysian Tzu Chi volunteers organize an anti-drug educational campaign in Malaysia; and he will send representatives from Taiwan for a knowledge sharing session.

Led by Dr Lua, students from Tzu Chi University first organized an anti-drug educational campaign in Penang, followed by subsequent campaigns in schools in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Melaka. On June 29, 2013, Dr Lua and Taipei Teachers' Association's members also conducted a training camp at Tzu Chi Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Office for more than 150 volunteers and members of Teachers' Association. Participants learnt how to organize anti-drug talks in schools and for the public, thus enhancing the anti-drug awareness in the country. The speakers included Dr Lua, Dr Anne Yee, members of Taiwan Teachers' Association, Wang Hui Ling, He Jun Hui and Zeng Mei Hua.

Drug Addiction in Malaysia

Dr Yee said, "In Taiwan, drugs are brought in by air, but in Malaysia, the smugglers used three channels - air, land and sea. As such, the drug issue in Malaysia is a serious problem. As a Psychiatrist specializing in addiction, Dr Yee shared information on how a human brain responds to different types of drugs and how drugs can damage the human body.

She further explained, "Once a person is addicted to drugs, it is not easy to kick the habit as the drugs will elevate them to a state of euphoria never experienced in real life. They would then crave for more drugs and resort to crimes if necessary, to fund their addiction.

She also informed that the number of drug addicts has increased significantly, from 711 in 1970 to 26,513 in 1982, and 92,300 in 1983. The Malaysian Government has listed drugs as the number one enemy of the country and has set up strict enforcement to control it. According to the law, anyone who smuggles in 15gm or more drugs will face the death penalty.

"Drugs have created huge problems for the country. In Malaysia, 29 drug rehabilitation centres have been set up to accommodate up to 9,000 drug addicts. The Government also spends RM30/- daily for each drug addict; and to help them in their rehabilitation, RM25,000/- per person is needed," added Dr Yee.

When asked about the result, Dr Yee said it was disappointing as 90% of drug addicts have returned to their old habit after undergoing rehabilitation. The percentage of those diagnosed with Hepatitis B and C is on the rise; and the HIV/AIDS cases have also experienced a sharp increase, from 4 cases in 1986 to 51,256 cases in 2002.

Dr Yee added, "I believe that University of Malaya and Tzu Chi University should continue to collaborate and train more people to promote anti-drug education in schools. We have received good response from the campaigns conducted and need to continuously organize such events so that more people are aware of the dangers of drug addiction.

"I am optimistic that we will achieve good results through this campaign using Taiwan as the leading example," said Dr Yee.

Drugs destroy families

Drugs have always been associated with criminal cases and are a major cause in destroying families. Drug-related cases are increasing in the world, regardless of race, country and religion. According to the 2009 data, out of the 58,000-plus prisoners in Taiwan, more than 25,000 were jailed for drug-related offences. In view of this serious matter, Tzu Chi collaborated with the Ministry of Education and Justice to launch an anti-drug education training course in June 2010. Since then, more than 2,000 promotional activities had been held.

Dr Lua said, "Drugs have been an issue for every country and all of us need to work hand-in-hand to solve this problem and put more effort in prevention. It is not easy to kick the habit once a person becomes an addict. Therefore, it is important that we enhance the public's knowledge and awareness as a preventive initiative.

Drug test to mitigate the drug problem

Dr Lua emphasized that as part of the anti-drug education, officers should learn how to conduct a drug test, which is similar to that carried out on drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. We need to make the public aware that they should never take drugs as the penalty is ultimately Death.

There are various types of drugs available now, and they include heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy or medications that contain drugs. The enforcement unit needs to compile a comprehensive drug test soonest possible through samples of urine, hair, blood, nails or saliva.

Anti-drug awareness

Chen Nai Yu, a member of Taiwan Teachers' Association said, "Drugs are dangerous items and to eradicate addiction, a society needs to have lots of love. It is important to let students know about drug preventive actions."

Teacher Chen added, "Not only students, but parents also need to be equipped with knowledge on how to keep drugs at bay to protect their children."

Drug peddlers' modus operandi

Teacher Wang Hui Ling shared, "Due to lack of understanding about drugs, students are easily influenced and encouraged by friends to try drugs. The drug peddlers will add drugs onto chewing gums, spike drinks and cigarettes to get them addicted and then force them to be drug mules. They have many other persuasive ways to seduce students to try drugs." She advised students in such situations to report to their teachers or parents immediately; and to stay away from drug peddlers.

With "Be Your Own Master" as theme, Teacher He Jun Hui said, "We need to stay away from drugs to avoid high debts, robbery and finally jail."

"There are many reasons people take to drugs. These include stress, exploration of the unknown, seeking excitement, family problems, peer pressure and mixing with the wrong crowd. Many people also take drugs as a form of escapism," said Jun Hui.

Jun Hui added, "It is very difficult for drug addicts to resume their normal life again. We need to say NO to drugs, have good morals and inculcate good habits in our daily life, always helping people, and staying away from unlawful matters."

Teacher Zeng Mei Hua cited her family as an example. Two of her brothers, who were drug addicts, had passed away. She advised, "Never ever think of trying drugs. Once you start, you will find it very hard to stop."



Teacher Yu Ying Ying from Jalan Davison Chinese Primary School said, "I am glad to join the training as there are not many courses like this offered to us. If teachers are well-equipped with such knowledge, they can lead students in the right direction."

Teacher Wei Yu Wen said, "This course will help teachers to promote anti-drug education in schools, thereby alerting the students about the dangers of drug addiction."

Volunteer Xiao Zi Ming said, "My nephew started taking ketamine 4 to 5 years ago. It is sad that I only learnt all these information today. Such education is still lacking in the rural areas." He believed that anti-drug education will alert more youngsters to stay away from drugs.

Kamala hopes to join Tzu Chi volunteers to promote the anti-drug education in schools. Preventive actions are always the best action so we need to educate students on how drugs can damage their life.

Tzu Chi volunteer, Lau Foon Mui said, "The drug awareness course is very useful to us. I have encouraged all volunteers in charge of Charity Mission to participate. This is because some of our care-recipients have family members with drug addiction problems. With proper knowledge, we would be equipped to handle it better."

 

Dr Anne Yee from University of Malaya said: Vice President of Tzu Chi University, Dr Ahai C. Lua said,

Dr Anne Yee from University of Malaya said: "Once a person is addicted to drugs, it is not easy to kick the habit and he/she would continue to crave for more and more drugs." 【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

Vice President of Tzu Chi University, Dr Ahai C. Lua said, "Drug awareness campaign is for everyone. Not only do we need to promote it in schools but also to all walks of life."【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】
Teacher Wang Hui Ling from Taiwan said, The trainers sharing the six tips to keep drugs at bay through entertaining exercise. 【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

Teacher Wang Hui Ling from Taiwan said, "The drug peddlers will add drugs onto chewing gums, chocolates or drinks to get the children addicted and later force them to be drug mules."【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

The trainers sharing the six tips to keep drugs at bay through entertaining exercise. 【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】
Kamala hoping to join Tzu Chi volunteers in promoting the anti-drug education in schools.【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】 Xiao Zi Ming regretted not being able to save his nephew from drug addiction. However, he hoped that through participating in the anti-drug education campaign, he can help other people in need.【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

Kamala hoping to join Tzu Chi volunteers in promoting the anti-drug education in schools.【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

Xiao Zi Ming regretted not being able to save his nephew from drug addiction. However, he hoped that through participating in the anti-drug education campaign, he can help other people in need.【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】
Teacher Yu Ying Ying from Jalan Davidson Chinese Primary School is happy to see that teachers are concerned about this issue. She will encourage more teachers to join this campaign and learn more on how to prevent drugs in schools. 【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

Teacher Yu Ying Ying from Jalan Davidson Chinese Primary School is happy to see that teachers are concerned about this issue. She will encourage more teachers to join this campaign and learn more on how to prevent drugs in schools. 【Photograph by Ho Wen Yee】

 

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