FNU launches Alcohol and Substance Abuse Awareness Week

Participants at FNU's Alcohol and Substance Abuse Awareness Week launch. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Fiji National University (FNU) launched the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Awareness Week last Friday to highlight the dangers and destruction related to alcohol and drug use.

Held at the FNU Sports and Wellness Centre at Nasinu Campus, the event organised by the Office of the Registrar was attended in-person and via Zoom by students, staff and representatives from agencies such as the St Giles Hospital, Ministry of Defense, the Fiji Police Force’s Narcotics Bureau, National Substance Abuse Advisory Council and Drug Free World Fiji.

College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences’ (CMNHS) Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching and Associate Professor (Psychiatry), Dr Odille Chang was Chief Guest at the launch and highlighted the destruction and chaos that alcohol and drug addiction caused not only for the individual but to their families and communities.

“Alcohol and substance use usually starts at a young age and often out of curiosity, boredom or peer pressure,” Dr Chang said.

“We know that students with poor academic achievement, lack of social/school connectedness, associating with delinquent or substance-using peers, history of childhood sexual abuse, poor parental monitoring, and family history of substance use are at higher risk for substance use.

“As such, we as parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles to our young people have a duty to set the right example. We often forget about the legal substances such as alcohol, tobacco, kava, that are readily available are often used irresponsibly and in excess in our homes and provide a gateway to other substances.”

“We cannot be binge drinking or using tobacco and kava excessively or using and/or growing marijuana or using/or selling meth and expect that we tell our youth ‘Do as I say and not as I do.”

Dr Chang also emphasised the need to be aware of children’s whereabouts and activities.

“It is also important to know how they are doing and coping and ensure we have open dialogue and communication with them so that when they are in distress or in need, they will turn to us or another trusted and a responsible friend or family member and not to drugs for relief.”

“A drug free Fiji is everyone’s business.”

University Registrar, Sarita Devi, said the campaign launch also marked International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is commemorated on June 26.

“During the campaign, our team will be conducting awareness talks as well as distributing information resources to all FNU campuses,” Devi said.

“We need to ensure that all our students receive the correct information related to drug and alcohol abuse so that they make correct and informed decisions.”

“This is also in line with our Strategic Plan Pillar 3 on providing a positive Student Experience that allows them to develop personally, morally and spiritually as well as intellectually, and to thrive, learn, question and succeed as global citizens,” stated Devi.

Stakeholder representatives also provided brief presentations on the work being done by the Fijian Government, enforcement agencies, non-governmental organisations and statutory bodies regarding alcohol, drugs and illicit trafficking.

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