Drug abuse touched a risky high during pandemic, says UN expert

UNODC Representative says stress caused by lockdowns, excessive use of the Internet among reasons

November 17, 2022 09:34 pm | Updated November 18, 2022 09:22 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Illustration for The Hindu

Illustration for The Hindu | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Drug abuse rose to dangerously high levels the world over during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly on account of the stress caused by the lockdowns and excessive use of the Internet, Marco Teixiera, South Asia Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has said.

Mr. Teixiera, who is attending a three-day international forum on ‘Right to a Drug-free Childhood’ here, said on Thursday that preliminary findings of surveys and studies conducted by the UNODC suggested that drug abuse had risen to high levels during the pandemic. He said periods of lockdown had driven many to drugs, posing a major challenge to those engaged in fighting the drug menace and running de-addiction initiatives.

On legalising drugs

“While nations are free to decide whether or not to legalise use of narcotic substances, each of them must consider whether their societies are mature enough to use narcotic substances with responsibility. If there is any flaw in this assessment, the outcome would be extremely disastrous,” he warned.

As many as 300 delegates from 60 countries are participating in the three-day conference, organised by the Fourth Wave Foundation in association with the UNODC.

“Efforts to foster drug-free societies should form part of the curriculum and become an important component of education. Teachers must get scientific training to detect nascent drug abuse among children and how drugs make their way into school campuses,” Mr. Teixiera said.

He called for treating drug abuse victims with empathy even while maintaining a zero- tolerance approach to the social menace.

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