USIU targets drug free learning

March 18, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – A campaign is set to be launched next week aimed at creating awareness and combating drug abuse in learning institutions.

The campaign dubbed “Save life, Serve and Support a drug free environment” will be launched by the United States International University (USIU) to coincide with their Drug Awareness Week running from 24-27 March.

USIU is hoping to encourage closer cooperation between educational institutions, parents and students in controlling drug abuse.

The University’s Head of Counselling Lucy Kungu has said the campaign would highlight challenges faced by many college students such as alcohol, substance and drug abuse and their solutions.

“Alcohol, substance and drug abuse ends up exposing students to exploitation by drug/alcohol dealers, which in turn disrupts their academic lives,” Mrs Kungu highlighted.

“Through this campaign we will explain to our students the real dangers of high risk behaviour, with grave consequences such as the risk of contracting HIV related infections,” the Head of Counselling observed.

Through the campaign, the University will also seek to educate students on the real dangers of contracting HIV related infections as a result of alcohol, substance or drug abuse.

Mrs Kungu is of the opinion that fighting drugs should be a shared responsibility and encourages parents to endeavour to identify drug addiction symptoms in their children as early as possible, so that they can take remedial actions.

In the late 1990s, findings of a study undertaken by the Child Welfare Association revealed that one in every 15 Kenyan students is on drugs, and now the prevalence is believed to be much higher, what with Kenya being a major transit point for hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

They find their way into the country through diverted shipments from Asian countries and South Africa that are headed for Europe and North America, according to the police.

Students in Kenya are said to primarily abuse bhang and hashish, and about 60 percent of drug abusers are below the age of 30.

Next week’s campaign will seek to encourage educational institutions to work more closely with young people and give them opportunities to express their needs, manage distractions from learning and deal with losses and frustrations in life, which are described as some of the circumstances that lead to drug abuse.

Mr Kungu is convinced that the youth should be protected from misinformation on television or in society, which lead them to believe that pleasure and happiness can only be found in drugs and alcohol.

“Love, encouragement, attachment, guidance using correct and empowering information on life skills, is the preferred tool with which to fight drug and substance abuse and the sure escape route to life frustrations,” she states.

The specific objectives of the campaign include: protecting the youth and specifically students from addiction and degeneration of life considering that they are all exposed to these substances every day; arming students with proper knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary for protecting young people against drug abuse – due to high risk factors associated with this age group; and providing a platform for students to share their experiences and air their views.

Among the activities lined up are educative talks, blood donations, stress assessment tests, Q&A sessions encouraging students to broaden their knowledge on alcohol and substance abuse, and information on rehabilitation centres and processes.


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