On Jun 26, ahead of the observance of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights called for strengthened prevention to address the growing concern of substance abuse among students, with the theme “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”.
Strengthening prevention is very vital as the drug abuse problem is now eating into the very fabric of Goan society and is doing much more damage than even alcohol. Drug and alcohol use affects health outcomes, job opportunities, family life, and academic outcomes.
The problem is grave and continues to wreak havoc in the state, resulting in tragic consequences for young adolescents, their families and communities.
Prevention programmes in educational settings offer a window of opportunity for the establishment of neural pathways that may protect against the development of drug and alcohol use problems.
The state requires a well-coordinated, sustainable response to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and drugs that seeks to improve the health and social outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Therefore, now, more than ever, it is critical to focus resources and efforts.
The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, in recent times, has been leading coordinated efforts with government departments and civil society organisations to strengthen prevention initiatives in the state. The same will be now strengthened with the following measures:
1) Promotion of Prahari Clubs to ensure a drug-free campus by imposing a total ban on the possession or consumption or use of drugs and alcohol by students at the school, within or outside the campus. A large range of preventive programmes will be promoted through the clubs to prevent children from using tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
2) Capacity-building of stakeholders, i.e counsellors and nodal teachers, to create a cadre of professionals to provide a range of substance use prevention and early intervention services and support.
3) Formulation and adaptation of school drug policy to set normative values and expectations for student behaviour as well as to document procedures for dealing with drug-related incidents in schools.