July 03, 2017

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How We Can Help in the Combat

Those who have visited the elegant “ Drug Elimination Museum” in Yangon, inaugurated on the 26th of June 2001, would easily realize the extent of the concerted effort Myanmar has taken in her endeavors to combat narcotic drug abuse and illicit trafficking throughout her long  history. The Museum also offers great benefits to the school children and the youth by making them fully aware of the pernicious effects and the adverse consequences of narcotic drug abuse. It gives them a valuable lifelong lesson to abstain from narcotic drugs, to value themselves and make healthy choices in life.
We all know that many developing nations in today’s world are scarred by a variety of damaging legacies of colonization. A common one was the introduction of the narcotic drug ‘opium’ — the cultivation, the production and the consumption of which ultimately led to the so-called  virtual destruction’ of the social system and the national spirit of the people of the colonized nation. In our country especially in the remote and the border regions, poppy cultivation and production somehow got deeply rooted with the national races in those areas having fallen victims to the fatal scourge.
Many operations under special names were carried out in the past in our effort to eradicate narcotic drugs, sacrificing a lot of lives and sweat in combat. Ours is a Union of different ethnic groups. What happened in one group or in one area is always the concern of everyone in the Union. As brethren living together in our golden land, all of us strive toward the betterment of all the groups. Accordingly, our government has been taking systematic actions in combating drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. In
1999, a 15 year Narcotic Elimination Plan was launched in three phases up to the year 2014, the implementation of which is being carried out vigorously since then. The tasks under this plan include cultivation of alternate crops, livestock breeding, and building of infrastructure for improvement in communication, energy, trade/commerce, health and  education sectors. The main objective here is to change the mindset and attitude of the people in those regions and at the same time to uplift their morality through the development of their social and economic status.
In addition, our government has been participating in the joint effort  and cooperation with neighboring countries and other International Agencies in the combat against narcotic drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking. (The necessary data and detailed information regarding these activities can be provided by those people and departments actually engaged in the field.)
From a layman’ s point of view, the two issues of narcotic durg abuse and illicit trafficking pose as ever-threatening scourges to mankind and they will continue to avail themselves so long as there are buyers and sellers, consumers and producers. Many nations have been, to certain degrees, engaged in activities to fight against these two scourges at different levels and in different ways. Local law enforcement agencies have stepped up in their movements with more search and destroy efforts enhanced to get more  seizures, stricter and more severe punishment and confiscation sentences passed for traffickers, so on and so forth. The question is what we, the public, can do to help in this combat.
First and foremost, we must realize that the main responsibility in drug abuse lies with the individual. Everyone must know that narcotics are harmful drugs that can cause addiction. He must say NO! to any offer of it  from anyone. Self-control and determination is crucial especially among the youths where peer influence plays a significant role. He must, by all means, value himself and make a healthy choice, strongly refusing and resisting the temptation to give it a trial.
Next, parents, teachers, and adults in the community should keep their eyes open to detect any irregularities in the behavior of the kids in their circle. They should remember the old proverb “The Devil finds work for idle hands,” which sound true for all ages regardless of sex and social status. It is always advisable and appropriate to keep the youth occupied with something worthwhile; so much the better, if they can be lured or urged to do volunteer jobs in community projects in their free time.
Research has shown that parental guidance and counseling with adults can bring about significant improvements in the attitude and behavior of the young people. Proper care and development in childhood can also contribute a great deal in combating against drug abuse. More critical are in the years of adolescence since these are the years teenagers tend to have more problems and difficulties by nature and by age, like sibling rivalry, permissiveness, emotional insecurity and many others due to over or inadequate or sometimes lack of parental protection.
Besides, ignorance can be a great enemy in our fight against drug abuse. Educative talks should be frequently given to the public so that they get the correct and useful information on the danger of drug abuse. More public awareness can be achieved through posters, pamphlets, newsletter, etc. Publication of them on a regular basis will definitely minimize the problems we are facing.
Even more important is educating young school children on drug abuse. If we can instill the danger in their little heads in an early stage, then their generation will have a better chance of a drug-free society. Preschoolers and primary kids in schools should be made aware of the danger of drug abuse in ways appropriate to their ages and levels of understanding.
Some people say that smoking leads to narcotic drug abuse especially that of “number-4 or heroin.” It is very common to find adult smokers in household asking kids to light the cigars or the cigarettes. Most children get the smoking habit in this way. Adults should be role models as nonsmokers in the families. With more awareness of the health issues connected with smoking, smokers are expected to quit their harmful practices. As bad habits are hard to drop, it will take some time to have all tobacco free zones in the country. In the meantime, the least the smokers can do is to avoid non-smoking areas and public places and never to ask the children to light for them. Once the kid picks up the smoking habit, he may run a greater risk of becoming a drug abuser.
The next area to looking into is the street kids from the lowest poverty group. Having missed the chance of proper care and education, those poor children usually take up the only way of getting easy money — selling the narcotic drugs or transporting it from the distributors to the users. The root cause of the problem here is poverty. The whole world today is concerned with this problem and finding ways and means to alleviate the intensity as the solutions are not yet found for the total eradication of poverty. The rich can make a lot of contribution in helping those poor children and taking them away from drug dealings. As good citizens, they should try to offer more humanitarian assistance in the combat against narcotic drug abuse.
Drug abuse issue cannot be complete without concern for the rehabilitation of the addicted youth. There are several rehabilitation schools for the youth. Generally, society tends to ignore him, putting all the blame on him for a wrong choice he had made at one time in his life. To help those addicted people, it is necessary that we must all change our attitude towards them, have sympathy for them and their families and try to make life easier for them after rehabilitation.
With regard to illicit trafficking, the major attraction to the traffickers seems to be the tremendous amount of profit from the deal. ‘Greed’ also blinded them from seeing the negative impact of their activities on the society as a whole. History has revealed great men who have brought positive changes and benefits to the society as well as those evil men who did only wrongs, bringing destruction. The mixture of the good and the bad will continue from generation to generation.
The only course open for us is to reinforce the responsible forces locally and to join hands internationally for tracking down across-border traffickers. In this age of open  globalization and advanced technology, nothing is impossible. “ Crime does not pay” and with a will, there must be a way to crush those bad people who are indirectly trying to destroy mankind by illicit trafficking of narcotics drugs.


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