Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jun 2004
Source: Times Of Malta (Malta)
Copyright: 2004 Allied Newspapers Limited


That World Drugs Day does not suffer from the commercial trivialisation 
that is becoming the lot of similar occasions is a measure of the 
seriousness we are asked to bring to a condition that affects hundreds of 
thousands of people across the world. As many who serve as role models for 
our youths are steeped in the drug culture, the war against it is more 
difficult. So, what should we be celebrating today? What should we be 
getting to grips with?

It is important to guard against too negative an approach and attitudes 
that are too optimistic. We need neither in our war on drugs. Too many 
lives are being destroyed or maimed by a scourge that respects no class, no 
intellect and no human condition to justify the latter.

Malta has not escaped this scourge.

You have only to follow the news to learn about successful drug busts by 
our police (for which they do not receive the praise they deserve) 
amounting, accumulatively over the years, to millions of liri. Heroin, 
cocaine, ecstasy pills are daily on offer in our islands - a case in point 
was the successful drugs raid in Zejtun only yesterday. Their supply 
confirms a demand. So, total success will only be achieved when the demand 
no longer exists. Regrettably, we are not in sight of that stage. Young 
lives and lives not so young continue to be destroyed. Traffickers and 
suppliers are far from being vanquished.

What, then, can we be optimistic about? First of all, the improved 
vigilance of our police and Customs officers. Having said that, it is 
appalling to read a letter such as that contributed to another newspaper by 
a DJ. In it he castigates the anti-vice squad for not taking any action to 
ban a leading DJ magazine "which unashamedly promotes drugs" even though he 
had alerted the squad to the fact that a British monthly on sale in Malta 
"targets youths and partygoers, depicting drugs as an essential accessory 
to make the best out of partying". Banning such material is a social and 
moral duty.

Second, we may reasonably be satisfied with our rehabilitation services. 
The communications officer of Sedqa, the government agency against drug 
abuse, told this newspaper: "Malta has a significantly better rate than its 
European counterparts when it comes to the number of people who start and 
complete their residential programmes and keep away from substance abuse 
when they go back to society". That is good news but we must steer clear of 
triumphalism. Positive though the agency's report may be, it is probably 
the case that if nearly 1,000 drug users attended the Detox Centre last 
year those who do not are at least as large.

At the end of the day, World Drugs Day helps us to take stock. It also 
serves to remind families and schools that they are as essential to the 
prosecution on the war on drugs as the police and our rehab services.

Parents and teachers are in a position to notice behaviour that indicates 
something is wrong with children in their home and during school hours. 
Friends, too, need to be taught that their first loyalty is not to their 
friend but to the welfare of their friend.

If World Drugs Day is going to mean anything it is to emphasise the fact 
that society as a whole, Church and State, parents, teachers, friends, have 
to confront the supplier, the trafficker, the victim, with might and main.
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