Malaysia has a drug problem.
Here are the stats according to the National Anti-drug Agency (NADA):
Concerningly, this problem is becoming increasingly prevalent among the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, it’s youths.
It’s been reported that 3% of recorded cases within the mentioned 4 years involved teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 years old.
A study by the Certified Fraud Examiners Association (Malaysia Chapter) also revealed that a substantial number of drug cases involved children and teens in primary and secondary schools as well as college students.
NADA had even come out saying that the youngest case of drug abuse they have on record involved children as young as 7-years-old.
Finding out that your children (or family members) are abusing or dependent on drugs might be a disorientating experience or more realistically, a disappointing and aggravating situation for parents.
And you can find yourself at a loss on what to do and how to respond. But there are ways that the issue can be addressed positively.
Here are some approaches that you can take if you are confronted with a child that is either experimenting with or addicted to drugs:
Do not isolate them
People who abuse substances are likely isolated and shun away from their families. Though the cause of addiction and the drive towards drug abuse can vary from person to person, it is established that parental and family support greatly affects the recovery and rehabilitation process to get an addict off drugs, and a lack of support can bring them back to the point of relapse.
Gaining family acceptance is crucial for an addict to continue on the path to recovery from drug addiction is it is a life-long process.
Acceptance can fundamentally change the addict’s perception and help them think more about the problem that they are facing and influence them to do better towards the goal of kicking the habit.
Keep calm and conversate
Sometimes the only thing that a parent can do is to keep a calm mindset and have an open, honest conversation about the problem.
Though knowing that your child is on drugs can be a gruelling experience, it is important to really listen and try to understand the motivations behind their drug use and abuse.
It is important to approach an addict in a non-threatening manner and not to shame them for their actions and behaviour.
It is also imperative to confront the problem as quickly as possible, as most drug use may begin as a voluntary decision, it becomes less of choice as the addiction takes over and fully envelopes the person.
Preventing and intervening does not always have to be in the form of negative reinforcement or and anger filled warning. Parents can approach the problem with a positive attitude in trying to understand the cause and motivation behind the addiction as well as forming a connection to encourage a child to break free from the habit.
Remember that addiction can never be solved overnight and that it is a process that takes constant support and reassurance in order for an addict to realise that there are those who care for them and their future.
Ensure them that it is possible to break away from the habit and set clear boundaries and expectations in order to help them through that process.
Do not allow yourself to be abused by or enable the addiction
Though keeping positive is a great mindset, too much positivity leniency can be harmful. It is common for drug users to abuse the sympathy and support that they are given to further exacerbate their addiction.
Never allow yourself to be a victim either physically, emotionally and financially or be permissive towards addicts and their habits. Again, it is important to set clear boundaries, expectations and goals that an addict needs to submit and conform to in order to put a stop to their detrimental behaviour.
Being an addict does not mean that a person can get away with not taking care of themselves and the people around them or be destructive and vile towards others.
And remember that you need to attend to your own health and wellbeing too rather than make unneeded sacrifices for other people, even your flesh and blood.
Seek professional help
There is only so much that you can do regardless of your knowledge, position, and understanding of your loved one’s lives and behaviour.
Sometimes it is best to take a step back and seek professional and experienced help in order to save your loved ones from being a victim to the destruction that drugs can bring upon themselves.
There are a number of drug rehab centres available in Malaysia that is just a Google search away. And if all else fails, or if your child is abusive or a danger to themself and others, it is best to contact the authorities so that your child can get the proper help that they need.
The conversation regarding drug addiction and drug abuse has changed over the years, from being a “threat to national security” to becoming an issue of “public health” but the topic is still considered to be a taboo subject within society.
It is up to us to approach the problem from the founding family institutions to enable and provide those who struggle with drug addiction space where they can look forward to improving themself in order to get better.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Akmal returns to the newly improved TRP to uncover cold truths and walk the fine line between deep and dumb.