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The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has expressed concern about the increasing number of children who are engaged in alcohol and substance abuse. How can guidance counselors assist DEC to curb the problem of drug abuse?Use and misuse of drugs and substance by children has become too familiar, in spite of its consequences. A huge number of children worldwide are experiencing the effects of drug misuse and illicit substances. The undesirable effects of intoxicating substances like alcohol and drugs are very real, very serious and well documented. It very serious because children’s bodies and minds are still developing characters forming. The terms drug abuse and substance abuse sound the same in many instances, but they are not. They are said to be intoxicating substances that cause an increase of unwelcome, harmful and an inability to control their use. Business Dictionary, (2008), describes the word “intoxicant”, as a substance which, when received by the body by one means or another cause the state of someone to function less, mentally or physically.
In Zambia today, it is common to find a twelve-year child smoking or let alone drunk. Research shown that, children are the major customers of the local drug cartels. Big numbers of children coming to school under the influence of such substances, has raised a lot of concerns in the education sector as well as the Drug Enforcement Commission, DEC. This assignment aims to discuss how guidance counselors can help Drug Enforcement Commission to curb the problem of drug abuse.Established in 1989 by the Dangerous Drugs (Forfeiture of Property) Act No 7 of 1989, the Drug Enforcement Commission DEC is an institution mandated by law to stop or reduce drug trafficking and possession in Zambia. In carrying out its mandate, the commission works with other institutions at the global, regional and local level.
The key role of these agencies is to provide the commission with information of where the cultivation of the drugs is, as the DEC cannot be found everywhere. Of the institutions that DEC partner with, are schools, the reason is because of the influence that schools have on children’s attitudes, knowledge and opinions. Children suspected or found to be abusing drugs in school are referred to the guidance teacher who in turn works with the DEC.School guidance counsellors play a significant part in ensuring that children in school remain on the right track. A 2017 survey reviewed that 5.2 percent of children twelve and seventeen years have an alcohol and illicit drug dependence, with eighty thousand one hundred fifty-six, Zambian children receiving substance abuse treatment and counseling at various mental and health care facilities country wide. This fact even if it is unpalatable is a big demanding task for school guidance counselors in making it easier for children to stay out of harm’s way.
Every day, schools are confronted with unpleasant struggles of substance abuse linked events. The immoral and wicked act has caused children to undertaking various activities among them, unrests, sexual violence, damage to school assets and other instances death. There are no qualified reasons why some children engage with drugs which turns to abuse. It is also not clear why other children are not at risk of the wicked vice and succeed to avoid its pitfalls, Carlson, (2010). Different reasons for substance and drug abuse can be pain relief, depression, anxiety, weariness and acceptance into a peer group.When certain things happen to children that they believe very sad it causes them to lose determination, they start thinking of best ways to become happy once more, thereby the use of drugs, which become habits, hence the abuse that we see and hear about.
For many years, influence from members of one’s peer group, has been an active force world over. Unfortunately, a group seldom pressures its member to change to positive fashion. As an illustration, you cannot come across a group of children pressuring others to attain satisfactory grades in class. By and large, the strong feeling is unconstructive; which involves anything from smoking and consuming alcohol. Taking part in the vice seems a huge price to remain part of the group. Central to the nature of peer pressure is the plan by which any group influences its members. Those that are presented with, eventually change their behavior to comply to the standards and rules of the group.A lot of children contend with some form of an anxiety disorder, which can be social anxiety, acute stress or panic. Social anxiety is mostly the type of disorder that usually lead to drugs or alcohol misuse. Children who do not acquire appropriate diagnosis to control it are at greater risk of experiencing drug and substance abuse. Children utilize intoxicating substances as a means of self-medication to function on a daily basis, as a result addiction, making it not easy to break the circle.The death of a loved one, especially a parent, is a difficult encounter for any child to endure. Strong emotions of sadness and grief start to exist in reaction to the situation which is normal and expected. And children experiencing loss often describe themselves as being pushed down. They feel socially lonely and many adopt to drugs, this usually happens if they do not have supportive families to guide them.From a teacher’s perspective, school is the life the future of any child.
Drugs and substance abuse demonstrates itself in many ways, such as behavioral problems and poor academic performance. Many of them have settled on drug and substance abuse as a fountain of recreation and happiness not knowing that the effects are unfavorable to their health and growth.Signs that suggest drug and substance abuse comprise of redness around the eyes, sudden change in appearance such as untidy, less desire in school, slurred speech, forgetfulness, absenteeism, falling grades and uncompleted tasks. Taking a step should be every teachers foremost plan, Towers, (1987). Drugs cause a lot of consequences including habits of stealing and selling drugs to peers, memory gaps, brain damage worse still loss of life. Children need information on this important topic because they live in a country in which Alcohol and Drug (AOD) use is everywhere, if even they do not use these substances, because, alcohol and drug substances affects their lives in a number of ways including through those who use them.The use of drugs is a serious societal matter of great value and schools are considered a privileged space for the development and keeping children from using drugs, and raising them to high social standing. A healthy school helps to prevent drug and substance abuse by equipping children with knowledge and skills required to make healthy choices and providing encouragement and emotional help. However, prevention programs should not only target attitudes and knowledge to be effective.
Effective drug and substance abuse programs need to be comprehensive, able to target the attitudes and knowledge of children as well as create a supportive environment. Consistent education about drug and substance abuse is important in helping children acquire skills and knowledge needed to stop the vice. However, a school cannot work alone, Toblar, (1999).Measures to keep children off drugs and lessen drug and substance abuse has become an important component in the Zambian school curriculum since children spend much of their time in a school environment. And thus, proves to be an important place to implement prevention programs that seek to reduce and eliminate the risk of engaging in use and future delinquency, done through Drug Education Programs DEP.Drug Education can be defined as a set of educational programs, policies, guidelines and procedures that contribute to the achievement of broader health goals of stopping and lessening drug use and drug related damages to individuals and the community. It is a life skills based education for drug use prevention which has been included in the formal and non-formal curricula. While it is not possible to change behaviors, caused by circumstances beyond the influence of the school environment, it is realistic for schools to impart knowledge and skills and strengthen sound values as a foundation in line to health and drug use. On their own, schools cannot manage, thus the DEC comes into play. Harm minimization in schools accept that, despite guidance teacher’s best efforts, some children still choose to use drugs. This, however, should not imply that a school as a system should approve that use It should be made clear to children that unlawful drug use and possession in the school is not acceptable and punishable.
Formation of Anti-drugs clubs is one of the many ways that guidance teachers can work with the DEC to curb drug and substance abuse. The patrons of these clubs should be DEC officials. In these clubs, DEC officers should inform children of the consequences of using and being in possession of drugs and the adverse effects that drugs can have on their health.Participating in sports helps keep children out of trouble, though it is not guaranteed as some children still get into trouble even while taking part in sports. This could be to the children’s choice of friends, lack of parental guidance or other circumstances. Sporty life in children may cause drug abuse for different causes including performance enhancement, pressure to perform, injuries, physical pain to mention but a few. Using performance enhancers is drug abuse called doping. Doping is the use of drugs or other substances for performance enhancement in an effort to gain a competitive advantage, Baron, (2007). Schools have various games in which children are participants, and their goal is to bring glory to their schools and indeed themselves. Inasmuch as, it is not the guidance teachers wish to see children come into contact with the long arm of the law, a guidance teacher can take advantage of this event by inviting Drug Enforcement Commission officers to sensitize children on the dangers of doping. As an alternative, this can be also an appropriate time for Drug Enforcement Commission officers to carry formal and systematic inquiry into the places and persons from whom the drugs originate, which these children abuse.
The most available and alternative substances among Zambian children is marijuana and alcohol. The first level of addressing the unpleasant topic of drug and substance abuse by children in sports is prevention. Proved studies reveal that doping in children is more than an isolated choice made by individual children. In the era of performance enhancing drugs(PED) with professional sports, one can say that all of us are guilty. So if everyone is using PEDs and it is normal development in the games, then why don’t professional sport bodies and anti-doping agencies allow it? Plain and simple, it is cheating. The role of the guidance teacher and the DEC should be to help children be the best and most importantly clean competitors. It must be made known to children that, they are not allowed to dope and if they do, there are consequences and repercussions which include but not limited to health problems and destroyed personality, the game and the nation at large.The misuse of drugs and substances can negatively impact all the aspects of a child’s life like, a strong effect on his or her family, friends, community and has placed enormous hardships on the Zambian society. Drug and substance abuse show an 80% of offences that lead to confinement and imprisonment of children in Zambia. The country’s places of confinement have exploded beyond what they can contain and most children are there in large numbers, because of drug and substance abuse. Their charges are based on what is referred to as “status offences”. They are status offences because, they apply only to children and punishable under the country’s penal code, Free Dictionary, (2008).
Research reveals that four of every five children in these state juvenile justice system are arrested for committing a drug and alcohol related offence and majority of the offences are shoplifting, vandalism curfew violations, school truancy, kicking, fighting and hitting. The role of the Drug Enforcement Commission is to come in and emphasize to children that, the law catches up with anyone and prisons are there for children found not obeying the law, disputing the concept that, they children can do anything because they are children. The Drug Enforcement Commission can identity children that need rehabilitation.When drugs and crime spillover into the school, teaching and learning is compromised. One of the principle risk consequences of drugs and substance abuse is violence. In the course of this present day, school violence is predominant than ever. There is intimidation and persecution to those considered weaker and cyber bullying. Recently, there have been incidences of children entering school with knives. Teachers and children similarly are at risk on a near daily basis and school is no longer a safe place it was for past generations. A school is supposed to be a safe place for learning, growth and discovery and feelings of unpleasant emotions, caused by the threats of danger, pain or harm have no place. Combating the problem of violence takes concerted, vigorous and determined efforts by teachers, guidance teachers and the Drug Enforcement Commission in particular, especially so, because this vice is a result of drug and substance abuse. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) should from time to time be offered by the Drug Enforcement Commission in schools.
The best way to convey the truth about drugs is through the words of those who have been there, so the Drug Enforcement Commission can bring in former drug addicts to tell their stories, so that by telling their stories they can pass on what they went through and children can avoid going down the same path.In modern Zambian community, substance abuse has become an easy way for children to satisfy their needs and obtain sudden feelings of excitement and pleasure. It is cardinal that guidance teachers understand the problem and have the knowledge to help children in school refrain from using drugs and live healthy and productive lives. The revelation by the Drug Enforcement Commission is evident that, there has been a significant increase in the consumption of drugs, especially the productive age, ten to thirty-five years. The age is prime because that is when people have the energy required to develop this great nation. It is unfortunate, that instead of harnessing this prime age group, it is wasting its demographic dividend. The task of making Zambia a drug-free nation should be left to the Drug Enforcement Commission alone. We have to work together in ensuring that we eliminate drug and substance abuse in our beautiful country by reinforcing drug education campaigns to raise awareness on the dangers of substance abuse.
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