Pubdate: Sat, 27 Dec 2003
Source: Star, The (Malaysia)
Copyright: 2003 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd.
Author: Datuk Zainuddin A Bahari


I READ the article, "Get tough with drug addicts" by Mazilan Musa, Senior 
Fellow and Director of the Institute of Islamic Understanding (The Star, 
Dec 24) with an equal degree of interest and alarm.

Interest in the emotional appeal and the proposals forwarded for solving 
the problem associated with drug addiction and alarm at the lack of basic 
knowledge and information on the problem.

Let us first be very clear on the scope of the drug addiction problem. 
There are both the demand and supply dimensions.

To tackle one without giving equal emphasis to the other would render the 
whole exercise futile.

Let us assume every single addict is taken in, would that solve our drug 

The answer is an emphatic NO. For as long as drugs are plentiful and easily 
available, fresh demand will be created and before long there will be new 
addicts around.

Contrary to the writer's belief, addiction is not a criminal act. It is a 
sickness and must be treated as such.

Addicts are human beings and one does not dump a fellow human being on an 
island just because he is incapable for one reason or another of saying no 
to drugs.

Increasingly, younger people are being initiated into drug use.

Are all these youngsters to be condemned to spend the rest of their lives 
on some isolated island?

"Putting addicts away" whether it is on an island or in a hole, solves 
nothing. It is an illusion to think that one can sweep away this 
long-enduring problem by the mere act of geographical displacement or 

This so-called solution would only create other problems.

There is no guarantee that drugs would not be made available when even 
tightly-controlled incarceration centres are not free of them.

Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world that have some of the 
harshest policies concerning drugs.

After more than 30 years we are said to be nowhere near to solving the problem.

Given the current drug scenario we may not be able to overcome the problems 
associated with drug addiction but we can certainly better manage them.

We need to begin with a better system of educating the uninformed and the 
misinformed about drug addiction.

Concomitant with the efforts to reduce demand for drugs, more needs to be 
done in terms of reducing supply.

But let us not despair. There is no problem that is without solutions - 
that is Allah's promise to us.

Condemning our young is not the solution but helping them will certainly 
reduce our drug addiction problem.


Humane Treatment Home,

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