Sun, 29 Jan 2023 Today's Paper

Narcotics The silent killer haunting the schools in Sri Lanka

27 May 2013 07:24 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The Jaathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Parliamentarian, Athuraliye Rathana Thera expressed concern that popular national schools in Sri Lanka has seen an unusual spike in narcotic usage among students in the recent months.

Not stopping at Colombo schools, various types of narcotics have also started claiming young lives in rural areas as well, he said.
Upon learning this, Daily Mirror investigated the trends in narcotic usage among school children, the factors that turn youngsters toward narcotics and the negative health and social consequences of the addiction.

  •     Social Consequences: Getting detached from the society, high tendency of being involved with criminal acts such as rape, murder and thefts, family disputes, halting education, face higher risk of suicide
  •    Economic consequences: Losing financial resources, problems at workplace which could lead to loss of employment
  •     Legal consequences: fines, imprisonment, death-sentence
  •     Health risks: HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Brain damage, types of cancer

Mechanical education responsible for the spread of narcotics among youngsters
Athuraliye Rathana Thera

According to Athuraliye Rathana Thera, there are around 200,000 drug addicts in Sri Lanka. They are a menace to society and an obstruction to the development of the country.
He added that narcotics are dangerous because once a child gets addicted to drugs, there is no turning back for him. It is very hard to break them off the habit once they are used to narcotics, he explained.
“There has been a widespread of drugs among school children in the past six months. It was sudden and unusual. Several principals from popular national schools in Colombo have come and spoken to me about this problem,” he revealed. “It is especially prominent among students in Advanced Level and Ordinary Level classes.”
He added that the drug problem was most common among boys-schools but girls-schools were also not immune to it. He claimed that the schools with the lowest drug use were mixed-schools, which he thought was an important fact to consider.
“The drug-menace is not limited to the urban areas anymore. Sadly it has also spread to rural villages and now youths in these remote areas have also started using drugs.”
Rathana Thera blamed what he called the “mechanical education system in Sri Lanka” for the spread of narcotic usage among youngsters.
He added that due to the rigid education system in Sri Lanka, children had no outlets for their pent-up impulses and emotions.
“There is no variation in the national curriculum. There are not enough aesthetic subjects to bring out the hidden talents of children. There is not enough opportunity for students to participate in sports to release their energy.”
Rathana Thera suggested that the national curriculum must include sports, aesthetic subjects, yoga lessons and martial arts to give students a well-balanced educational experience, adding that to maintain a child’s mentality was important in preventing them from turning to dangerous drugs and narcotics.
He also added that the legal system of the country was too easy on drug addicts.
“There are billionaire-businessmen behind the drug mafia which hunts on children. These businessmen even receive political protection. Therefore they easily bring in narcotics and illegal drugs into the country while the authorities turn a blind eye,” he claimed.
The Parliamentarian added that there must be strong laws in place to stop the young generation from going astray.
“There are many independent organisations that work to prevent drug abuse and to rehabilitate drug-users in Sri Lanka. However that is not sufficient. Their reach is limited,” Rathana Thera said. “Something must be done on a national level to fight against the drug menace. The government needs to take immediate action to tackle the problem of narcotic usage among children.”

Stress and pressure for educational achievements can lead to drugs

Dharshanie Guniyangoda

According to Dharshanie Guniyangoda, the Director of Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Association (SLANA) school children are at a high risk of getting addicted to Narcotics. Most drug users try any drug for the first time when they are between the ages of 11 to 16 years old, while the heaviest drug users are between the ages of 16 to 25 years, she said.
SLANA is a Non-Governmental Organisation which aims to prevent drug abuse at a primary level. The organisation works to keep non-drug users as non-users by creating awareness, promoting alternatives and developing life skills.
The Director went on to highlight the factors which lead to drug dependence and addiction.  
“Peer pressure is one of the main factors which leads to students using drugs,” she said. “Older children in schools introduce younger ones to drugs. Once you are in a drug culture, you need finances and these can be obtained by drawing in more people. Young children are the easiest victims.”
She added that children in this age group are naturally curious and are more likely to experiment with drugs and other narcotics.
Guniyangoda explained that the school environment and the home environment are the biggest determinants of a child’s addictions.  “Instabilities in the school environment or at home can lead to substance abuse,” she said. “It is not that drugs are readily available at schools or in homes. But high levels of stress or too much pressure for educational achievements can be factors which lead students toward drugs.” Guniyangoda revealed that drug abuse is linked to low self-esteem and a lack of vision or goals in life. According to her, when children are anxious about the future, they try to escape from these fears by turning to drugs or other harmful substances.  “Most of the drug users are highly creative, very talented but extremely sensitive individuals,” she claimed. “These are children who suffer from a perceived sense of helplessness and hopelessness.

Drugs, not a need but mental attitude

Pubudu Sumanasekara
According to the Executive Director of Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), Pubudu Sumanasekara some separate narcotics into two categories: one as a depressant and the second as a stimulant. But the truth is narcotics are depressants. Although drug users try to glorify drug abuse, the truth is there is absolutely no glory in the habit. The reason for this is because drug-users try to draw others into the habit. Just like any businessman, drug-dealers’ main objective is to gain more customers. Most users admit that their first encounter with narcotics and drugs was a bitter feeling. Unfortunately this truth is not spoken by many.

He added that youngsters get into narcotics and other drugs due the influence of the media. According to him media plays a major role apart from other sociological and psychological factors.

The most common narcotics existing in Sri Lanka are Cannabis and Heroin. Since the promotional attempts have failed the companies or the persons exporting these try new strategies.

“We have found out instances where certain people were paid by certain companies to smoke or to hold cigarettes in places where youngsters hang out. Their aim is to provoke them,” said Sumanasekara.

He further stated that there is a tendency to relapse, once people are addicted. It is not because they need it but the mental attitude which is registered in their minds. These users have limited their social life and separated themselves from social forums. To fill the lacunae in their life they tend to get re addicted. As the Director stated what they need is psychological support and societal change.

Sumanasekara stated that school children must be educated about the consequences of the usage of narcotics as they are the targeted group. Educationists should play a major role in this. Rather than saying no without giving reasons, the children must be educated on the negative impacts of the usages.
“The truth should be revealed. All these drugs do not give a pleasant feeling at all. It does not matter what or how often addicts use them, they ruin ones’ health and social life,” he said.


Lack of social acceptance lead rehabilitates back to Narcotics

K. Gamage
The rate of new drug-users in Sri Lanka is falling said  K. Gamage, Executive Director of National Dangerous Drug Control Board (NDDCB).

“There are two types of narcotics that can be found in Sri Lanka which are cannabis and heroin. According to the statistics we have that there is a clear reduction in the number of users,” he said.

He said these are common not only in Colombo but most of the coastal areas. Unlike earlier it is impossible to differentiate in which class the usage is more common as people are much more connected with the development of technology, transport and media. Out of the people who use drugs, the majority are males. The female drug users are made up mainly of sex workers.

The children tend to experiment with narcotics as they associate with same aged ‘peers’ and attend tuition classes.

“The school children are a targeted market. They are the people who like to experiment and like to experience new things. Sometimes due to peer pressure they tend to experience. Most of the children attend tuition classes today and in most of these places children are unsupervised,” Gamage said.

The Executive Director stated that the exports of the drugs are controlled so the addicts have attempted to find alternatives. Usage of cough syrups is the best example. But that too is controlled at the moment.
He said that it is important to educate society, especially school children about the consequences.
He also stated that it is essential to reduce the number of relapses. “40 per cent of the people who are rehabilitated tend to use these again, which we call chronic relapse brain disease. Society has to help them. Although they are rehabilitated sometimes society labels them and shuns them to an inferior position. Since the rehabilitated person lacks the acceptance from the society he tends to get back in to the narcotics, thinking that it is the only answer,” said the Executive Director.

He stated that there must be strong family relationships, spiritual development, social integration and occupational therapy for a person who is addicted to overcome from the addiction.

Pix by Nisal Baduge

Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Sending Money,Online Books, Delivery Service, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop Sri Lanka

  Comments - 1

Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Sending Money,Online Books, Delivery Service, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop Sri Lanka
  • jehan Wednesday, 29 May 2013 04:50 AM

    put bbs on it,then we all sri lankens will support,say no to drugs.

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment

Order Gifts to Sri Lanka. See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Vegetables, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Sending Money,Online Books, Delivery Service, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop Sri Lanka

Health System in the emergency room

Sandya Kumari from Kotahena has been experiencing chest pains since 2015 and

Canada’s targeted sanctioning of Gota and Mahinda

History was made last week when two former executive presidents of Sri Lanka

SC judgement on Easter attack: Court rules negligence stood in the way of avoiding most heinous crime

“On the ill-fated day of 21st of April 2019, this island home was awoken ru

Lasantha was a Fearless Editor who Spoke Truth to Power

Friends,Family members, colleagues, schoolmates and admirers of Lasantha Wick