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70% of drug users started at school

Massive campaigns aim to increase risk awareness among students

Gulf News

Manama: More than two-thirds of the people who use drugs in Saudi Arabia started when they were in middle or high school, the country’s drug enforcement agency said.

“We have evidence that 70 per cent of the people who consume drugs in the kingdom [had their] first experience with them when they were students in middle and high school,” the anti-drug directorate general said. “We have launched studies into how the media is addressing the issue of drugs as we look into more ways to curb the phenomenon. Around 60 per cent of our campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs target families while the remaining 40 per cent are aimed at young people,” the directorate said in remarks published by local Arabic daily Al Watan on Tuesday.

Around 90 per cent of the campaigns are carried out by government entities while the private sector is involved in the remaining 10 per cent, it said.

Saudi Arabia has been actively involved in the fight against drugs and announced in December a national strategy to be carried out through a partnership with 25 public and private agencies, mainly in the education and health sectors.

Although the anti-drug awareness campaign targets all segments of society, its focus is on around five million students in 25,000 schools under 85 education departments.

The campaign is using websites, television programmes, video clips, cartoon films, booklets, exhibitions, symposiums and workshops.

Saudi authorities said that massive campaigns were a strategy they used along with the arrest of smugglers and traffickers in their anti-drug fight.