INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON DRUGS AND YOUNG PEOPLE “PROVIDING AND ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO MAKE CHOICES”

Executing Agency:
World Youth Foundation(WYF)
In Cooperation with:
The Government of Malaysia
Ministry of Youth & Sports Malaysia
Ministry of Health, Malaysia
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
Ted Noffs Foundation, Australia
National Drug Agency, Malaysia
World Assembly of Youth

Content page
Background
Efforts to curb citizens’ drug use have existed almost as long as drugs have been used. One of the earliest recorded drug laws comes from 17th century Russia where Czar Michael Federovitch ruled that anyone caught with tobacco should be tortured until he gave up the name of the supplier. In more recent times, most countries around the world have established national drug policies. Between 1989 and now official national drug policies were introduced in several countries and a further 41 countries were developing national drug policies or had developed such a policy.

Along with the rise in worldwide communication and trade, the use, manufacture and sale of drugs has become a global issue. The United Nations work to establish an international system of drug control in which countries are obliged to criminalize all non-medical use, manufacture and sale of drugs. Globally many nations states including Malaysia pushes for international cooperation and direct action against drug production and trafficking. Yet illicit drugs play a major role in economies around the world and drug use continues to rise.

Treatment availability and policy focused on demand reduction rather than supply reduction is a growing trend in national drug policy, especially since intravenous drug users are at high risk of HIV/AIDS infection, however, criminal enforcement remains the central theme in world drug policy.

Developing countries with often very large young population, are especially at risk of worsening drug situations that will have an impact on their development possibilities.
The reasons why people begin and continue drug use are complex and multiple, and often to do with social and economic development. Whatever the specific reasons for the use of their drugs of choice may be – and they vary greatly – the emerging trends in global drug abuse among young people should be seen against the backdrop of an environment where, in many countries, young people are increasingly being confronted with rapid social and technological change and a more competitive society, where the drive to succeed is high and personal self-fulfillment is emphasized. Additionally a weakening traditional values and family ties and increased needs for higher
levels of stimulation are being experienced.

We are facing a global problem which needs a common response. Many strategies have been tried for preventing and reducing the demand for drugs here as well as in various countries. Nevertheless the problem seem to be getting bigger and more complex. The quest for a holistic and pragmatic approach in dealing with this complex phenomenon should continue. Action must be taken at the grass roots level.

Statistics gathered around the world shows that the issue of drug and substance use is a global phenomenon threatening the development of the entire population of the world.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its report ‘Global Illicit Drug Trends 2003’ estimates that about 200 million people of the global population consume illicit drugs. This amounts to 3.4% of the global population. The annual prevalence of drug use is now estimated to be 4.7% of the world population age 15 and above. This figure appears to be trending upwards from its previous estimates of 4.3%.

In Asia alone it is estimated that about 90 million people consume illicit drugs. More categorically, about 3.7% of Asia’s population age 15 and above are drug users.

The main categories of drug type used in Asia are Opiates/heroin (11 million people), Cannabis (55 million people) Amphetamines and Amphetamine type stimulants-ATS (22.5 million people) and Coca/Cocaine. Though cannabis is the most widely used drug, heroin continue to be the most problematic one. Interestingly East Asia and South East Asia together account for about two thirds of global ATS users and a majority of them fall in the youth category.

The supply and use of drugs and substances which includes synthetic drugs such as amphetamines is soaring worldwide in part because a major portion of our public don’t realize how dangerous they can be. The dangers it poses to the society at large are multi-pronged. It results in economic loss and creates severe social problems. Apart from these the public have to put up with other drug related problems such as increased crime and violence, susceptibility to HIV/AIDs and hepatitis; the list may go on.

As if we don’t already have enough problems dealing with the use of the traditional drug types such as cannabis, cocaine and heroine, now we are faced with a new relentlessly growing danger posed by synthetic drugs such as Ecstasy, amphetamines and amphetamine-type stimulants(ATS). The annual global value of the ATS industry alone is estimated to be US$65 billion (RM247billion). A recent UN report says that most users of these synthetic drugs or designer drugs as they are sometimes called, are concentrated in Asia, Europe, and North America. The report also recorded that the use of ATS is concentrated among youths between the ages of 18-20 years. The alarming news is that these drugs are wrongly perceived as less harmful than other illicit substances, like heroin and cocaine. Use of these drugs can cause dependence, loss of memory and premature decline of other mental functions. And yet Ecstasy and amphetamines are staples at parties and discos.

The highest risk group falling victims to these drugs is the youth, wherever they may be regardless of boundaries. Any plan for prevention effort or strategy need to engage this target group and help them to assume primary responsibility for finding solutions. This means working cooperatively with, and supporting representatives of the targeted group as they clarify the problem, determine appropriate goals, design, possibly deliver, and help to evaluate the prevention activity.

Objectives
Young people are not homogeneous and are not the problem. They are instead a key resource for making a difference in drug abuse and they should be given a chance to express their views. There is strong indication that involving them as prevention agents in peer-led initiatives can produce good results.

To create a better understanding among young people of the causes, nature and extent of the problem of drug abuse among young people.
To better inform young people the various perspectives on drug and substance use.
To examine existing approaches to substance prevention in order to develop new drug and substance use prevention programs that are youth-focused and youth-friendly.
To consider those strategies that work and those that do not, and in particular to consider:
The effectiveness of existing laws, policies, programs and services;
The impact to the community and in particular at-risk youth;
The effectiveness of current resource allocations in targeting the problem of drug and substance use;
The role of civil society, government, and the private sectors.

To recommend a future course of action so that the best and most effective strategies, policies and programs, both short and long term, are available to address the impact of drug and substance use among young people.
To identify ways to improve existing strategies, programs and services.

To engage young people to be involved with drug use prevention programs. Youth are an important part of the solution, and yet they are too often marginalized, or exploited as “tokens”. Their significant potential as agents of change must be better recognized and utilized. Improved methods of reaching and empowering youth, in partnership with adults, needs to be created.
Congratulatory Messages: 
Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam

Welcoming speech by Varsha Ajmera
Chief Operations Officer
World Youth Foundation

Summary of report: Dr. Phillip George

Congratulatory Messages:
San Yuenwah (UNESCAP)
UNITED NATION
Economic and Sosial Commission and the Pacific
United Nations Building, Rajadamnern Nok Avenue,
Bangkok 10200, Thailand.

I have great pleasure in congratulating the World Youth Foundation, under the visionary guidance of the Rt Hon Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Chief Minister of Melaka, Malaysia, for organizing the International Conference on Drugs and Young People.

“Providing an enabling environment for young people to make choices” marks a milestone in a deeper-level of efforts to address in a more meaningful way the issue of drugs and young people in the Asian and Pacific region. The Conference highlights a significant shift away from a punitive approach that blames individuals for drug addiction, to one that focuses on collective responsibility for creating the protective factors that would enable young people to make the correct choices regarding drug use.

Young people in the region are doing relatively well. They are better educated. They are healthier and may expect to live longer than previous generations. Their future is also promising at the family, community and economic levels.

Despite these possibilities, there are young people who are unable to deal with rapid social change and setbacks. Among them are young people who experience rejection and dysfunctionality that they do not have the coping skills and requisite guidance and support to deal with. Many are from seemingly regular, well-to-do family backgrounds and are enrolled at school, but succumb to the temptation to experiment with drugs that have become easily available. Some others may live in poverty and experience violence at home and on the streets. A number of young people slip into drug abuse, delinquency and crime as part of their victimization in sexual abuse and exploitation.

In this context, the Conference marks an important step forward in the region’s efforts to reduce youth drug abuse. Young people could play a vital role in enhancing the youth-friendliness and effectiveness of the comprehensive approach that the Conference is advocating: classroom instruction, peer assistance, parent education, school policies and mentoring for at-risk students, municipality recreation programmes, community policing and neighbourhood support programmes.

Community-based and school-based initiatives are of crucial importance in drug use prevention among youth. They must include interventions that convey developmentally appropriate messages throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, reinforced by life skills that enable young people to deal effectively with the challenges and risks that are part of a world of rapid change.

I am especially pleased that young people from other regions of the world are also invited to this important Conference. Taking a step back from action to share experiences and reflect collectively on issues of common concern facilitates international advancement in tackling the seemingly intractable problems of youth drug abuse.

Please accept my very best wishes for the success of the Conference.

San Yuenwah
Chief
Health and Development Section
Emerging Social Issues Division
United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Malaysian Drug Policy Concepts and Strategies ‘A Malaysian Viewpoint’
Dato’ Mukhtar Bin Ismail

Drug and Substance Abuse By Young People
Hafizi Harun (Pengasih Malaysia)

Unemployment, Poverty and Drugs Dependency Among Young People
Molobe Daniel Ikenna

College Students’s Dangerous – On Drugs and Young People
Chen Zuo

Global Youth Network (GYN)

Case Management Program to Respond to IDUs Needs in Jakarta
Plamularsih Swandari

Presentation of current drug situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and role of the coalition of NGO in prevention and treatment of drug abuse
Samir Ibisevic

HIV/AIDS and Drugs Among Youths in India: Identification of Major Social Dimension and Planning for Enabling Environment Prevention and Control
Dr. S. Shanmuganandan

Intravenous Drugs Users and HIV Infection in India: A Study on Epidemiologicial Perspective and Identification of Major Determinants
Dr. S. Shanmuganandan

Acknowledgements
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)
Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department Malaysia
Ministry of Youth & Sports Malaysia
Ministry of Education Malaysia
Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage
Melaka State Government
National Narcotics Agency Malaysia
United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Bangkok
Youth Challenge Singapore
World Assembly of Youth
Malaysian Youth Council
4B Movement Malaysia
Malacca Youth Council
Yayasan Melaka
Maxis Communciation Berhad
Drug Rehabilitation Centre, Tiang Dua, Melaka
Police Department Melaka
KI Pengurusan Progresif, Melaka
Surya Printers
A Famosa Resort
Tourism Malaysia
Volunteers & All Support Staff of World Youth Foundtion

World Youth Foundation (299361-M):An NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

Address: World Youth Foundation, P.O Box 584, 75760 Melaka, Malaysia. Telephone: +606-2320911 Fax: +606-2323911 Email: wyfhq@wyf.org.my

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