Editorial comment – Reality of hard drugs

Year 2 student Angel Kumar (front 2nd from left) and Year 1 student Tevita Vosatakiwaqa (front 3rd from left) with Year 7 students portray their messages during the International day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Celebration at Saint Thomas Primary School in Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

In June 2017, the then Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy emphasised the protection of children during the launch of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Kalabu Primary School in Nasinu.

He spoke about how families should be mobilised to protect children.

The emphasis was on the drug abuse.

The topic is obviously a critical one.

The arrival of new drugs in our country has actually catapulted this, as a major thorn on our sides, to dizzying heights.

While drug abuse had been in existence for some time, he said then, the worrying trend was that it was slowly stretching its tentacles to our children.

Last year, Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts permanent secretary Alison Burchell said the focus of Drug Awareness Week should not only be on substance abuse.

She highlighted mental health, non-communicable diseases, teenage pregnancy among other important issues in June last year.

In most of our discussions on the issue of drugs, the key, it seems, is proper education about substance abuse and knowing the role one plays in overcoming bad life choices.

Sometimes, Ms Burchell said, we have to lead, and being a leader can be quite difficult because you have to say no to certain things that many are saying yes to today.

An event such as IDADAIT, she said, shouldn’t be observed only once a year.

In fact this should be observed daily.

This is an issue which is as frightening as it is worrying.

We all have a stake in the drug war.

We have a responsibility to uphold important values that make life what it is in Fiji.

We can either create awareness about the place consumption of illicit drugs should have in society, or help it thrive.

They come in many forms, from marijuana to hard drugs such as ice, cocaine and heroin.

The drug trade is lucrative and has clothed and fed many who harbour no second thoughts of its harmful effect on users and their dependents.

They have no feelings for the negative impact hard drugs have on families and their loved ones.

To survive, traders have had to come up with innovative ways to do business as police clamp down on the trade.

Fiji has become even smaller with the movement of hard drugs.

It doesn’t matter whether you live in the Capital City, in Lautoka or Nadi, in Labasa or Savusavu for instance.

The reality on the ground, it seems, is quite shocking.

In fact it is frightening.

As the force targets dealers who are constantly adapting to their various methods of detection, it needs the support and encouragement of members of the public.

One of the dangers we face is “acceptance” — when the drug habit becomes an acceptable part of growing up.

It is important that we place some value on what is acceptable and what is not.

We should be realistic and advocate approaches that are conducive to fostering open and honest discussions.

A sense of security can be an even greater catalyst in the fight against hard drugs.

In fact it can rub off both ways as well.

We hope a lot of thought is put into highlighting issues related to drug abuse, the sale of hard drugs, and the movement of drugs around our beautiful country, giving it the prominence it deserves.

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