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Saudi students warned against use of stimulants while preparing for exams

Educators say that drugs part of problem, not solution

Gulf News

Manama: Education authorities in Saudi Arabia have reiterated their warning to students against taking stimulants to allegedly help them focus during their academic tests.

With thousands of Saudi students sitting for their national exams, peddlers have been pushing for using amphetamines, commonly known as Captagon, as the best stimulant to “boost energy, remain alert, fight exhaustion and help achieve high scores”.

Despite being banned in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, the drug has become alarmingly popular among students and truck drivers and is regarded as the top amphetamine-type stimulant consumed in the area.

“We do warn against its use, especially among students,” Rashid Al Zahrani, said the head of public relations at the Hope Institute in Dammam, the largest city in western Saudi Arabia. “We currently have 1,651 Saudis and 106 non-Saudis who are being treated for addiction to drugs. The largest age group, around 37 per cent of them, are between 20 and 29, while those who are less than 20 years old constitute two per cent of the total,” he said in remarks published on Monday by local Arabic daily Al Sharq.

According to the figures, 34 per cent of the addicts being treated are between the ages of 30 and 39, 20 per cent between 40 and 49 and 8 per cent were more than 50 years old.

“Unfortunately, school age students are particularly vulnerable when it comes to taking drugs from peddlers,” Ayedh Al Rahili, the head of education in Hafr Al Batin in the northeastern region of the Saudi kingdom. “We have warned them against sliding dangerously into the terrible world of drugs and to dismiss all the false allegations made by those who push them onto the wrong path. They should shield themselves from such immoral and destructive ways,” he said, quoted by the daily.

Anti-drugs officials in Saudi Arabia have also been pressing for mandatory regular blood tests for trailer and truck drivers to ensure that they are not taking stimulants.

Several long vehicle drivers have been blamed for the alarming increase in the number of fatal road accidents.