Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency (BNCA) has started off with an advocacy campaign after numerous complaints on the increased number of students particularly in middle and higher secondary schools indulged in drug abuse and open use of tobacco.
The campaign includes sensitization drives on the issue for students, teachers and non-teaching staff on legal consequences, violating drugs and tobacco laws. To educate on ill effects of drug abuse and tobacco consumption and ensuring a drug and tobacco free society led by the youth as future citizens.
The BNCA, Narcotic Control Board’s Legal Officer Sonam Tshering, said currently there are no facts and figures as such since it was informal and not done officially and lot of complaints were received through phone calls.
The vulnerable groups are mostly in Class IX to XII, which means the students of middle and higher secondary schools.
“That’s why we want to make sure they know it,” the Legal Officer said adding majority of them are students. He said the campaign will be immensely helpful for the ignorant and the vulnerable; the school youth who are very difficult to meet and who hardly come forward.
For instance in YHS, which has almost 2000 students, even if 500 take it seriously, there is a huge impact, the Legal Officer said.
“We don’t want any student to get into trouble, and in fact we want to prevent every student from getting into problems. It is our priority,” he said.
Despite BNCA’s many service centers in place such as Drop In Center, Detoxification and Rehabilitation Center, a good chunk of the affected youth population is unaware of the services and those that are; they rather fear that they might be caught if they avail or sign up for the service.
The BNCA said this was one strong notion they wanted to dispel.
The BNCA official said by law, a drug abuser has a right to come and seek medical assistance and rehabilitation.
However he said once they are arrested by police, the case is totally different and it will have to follow through with the procedures.
In Thimphu alone there are over 30,000 students, mostly primary school students.
Sensitization exercises were also observed in all of 205 gewogs in 2011.
“And because now people are more aware many are caught,” he said.
The National Baseline Assessment (NBA) 2009 showed about 991 drug users are found in the Dzongkhags.