Two years after the project was mooted, very few institutions are even aware of the programme

Two years after the project was mooted, the anti-narcotics clubs in the city’s schools are yet to get started.

With very few even aware of the programme, experts in the field and those involved in treating persons diagnosed with substance abuse say the problem is serious and needs immediate attention.

Every year on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which falls on June 26, rallies and events are conducted in schools and colleges. However, the problem is on the back burner the next day. It was in an effort to fight this apathy that the State mooted the idea of clubs in schools and colleges.

In 2011, a circular was issued by the higher education department to all colleges and universities to conduct awareness programmes and set up anti-narcotics clubs. While some colleges and universities have formed clubs or conduct programmes, the rest have not shown any interest.

Anita Rao, who works with TTK Hospitals, says it is important to create awareness among school students as it is too late by the time they start college.

“We want to talk to classes IX and XI students and make teachers take up the issue. If you ask me for number of those affected I cannot tell you as no studies have been done,” she said.

When organisations approach schools they are rebuffed a by lack of interest. While private schools don’t have the time for such programmes, in Chennai Schools, some principals are forthcoming. But when they are transferred the programme is shelved.

School education authorities say awareness programmes on the ill-effects of tobacco are conducted sometimes.

However, it is not just tobacco but several other banned narcotic substances that reach school and college students and there are several methods employed by the unscrupulous to lure young students into the habit, says R. Sundaralingam, an international drug expert, who was associated with Interpol. He gives lectures and conducts awareness programmes in colleges but says the priority is to raise awareness as victims will never lead the police to the perpetrator.

According to Mr. Sundaralingam, better coordination between the various departments is the need of the hour.

“Drug abuse is a problem that is brushed under the carpet because the victims never complain. The war against drugs must be in the classroom and not the courtroom,” he said

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