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Picture for illustrative purposes: drug addiction among youth Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The average age of drug abuse among youths in the UAE has dropped from 16 to 12, according to a Dubai official.

“There is a reduction in drug abuse age from 16 to 12-year-old,” said Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai and chairman of Juveniles Awareness and Care Association.

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Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and General Security in Dubai and chairman of Juveniles Awareness and Care Association. Image Credit: Supplied

“It is a worrying indicator,” he added during a virtual session with other officials as part of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

“There is a need for a quick review of children protection strategies. We need to increase the family’s role by educating them with procedures for quick intervention as soon as they discover that their children are consuming drugs, to prevent them from reaching the addiction point.”

During the session titled ‘Family, the first line of defence’, organised by the Juveniles Awareness and Care Association and Hamada International Centre at Dubai Police on Friday, officials agreed for a quick review of children protection strategies and programmes to help raise awareness among children aged between 12 to 14.

Hesse Buhumaid, UAE Minister of Community Development, revealed that there is a guidance for families to show them the procedures if they discover their children consuming illegal substances.

“It is important to have specialised programmes that build a positive relationship and divide the roles between the family of the addicted person and rehabilitation centres,” Buhumaid added.

“The family is the main core of creating the child’s personality. The ministry was keen to organise educational workshops for families in cooperation with government bodies on precautionary and preventive measures.”

Meanwhile, Dr Hamad Al Ghaferi, director general at the National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), revealed that 95 per cent of drug abuse and addiction resulted from family problems.

“Rehabilitation of teenagers is different from people above age of 18. The rehab process includes the child and his parents. Family problems encourage children to find alternatives. Protection and quick response are key factors to save the lives of youngsters,” Dr Al Ghaferi said.

He said that between 65 per cent to 75 per cent addiction relapse for teenagers can happen after three months of recovery and 85 per cent of them can relapse after one year of recovery.

“Addiction after first time someone consumes drugs depends on the type of drugs as there are some types people can’t escape from its addiction even if they had it once,” Dr Al Ghaferi added.

Dubai Police embrace addicted teenagers

Brigadier Enid Mohammad Thane Hare, Director of Anti-Narcotic Department at Dubai Police, warned parents from neglecting their children or leaving them with maids and allowing them to meet up bad friends.

“The major problem we noticed is parents don’t know enough information about illegal drugs. Dubai Police embraced 40 addicted youngsters this year and referred them to rehabilitation centres without legal action to protect their future. Last year, police embraced 120 youngsters,” Brig Hare added.