By Muhammad Faris bin Jafri
The problem of drug addiction is not caused merely by the chemical properties of the drugs themselves, but also the environment in which the addicts live. Realising this, AADK (Agensi Antidadah Kebangsaan) organised a community outreach programme in which they survey the life conditions of the people in high-risk areas who were prone not only to drug abuse but other problematic social activities.
Seven students from IIUM, including myself, are grateful to be involved in helping their operations.
The target area for the day was Setapak. We set out early in the morning and after a quick briefing session, we were divided into groups of three to help quicken the process. The modus operandi was simple; visit each house near the area and collect as many details from the owners about their living conditions, details about the help they need, as well as the social issues prevalent in the area according to their observation.
According to Encik Kamal, an AADK officer, “These surveys are needed to gauge the conditions of the people in the area. It helps us form further suitable intervention programmes whether it be spiritual, financial or educational in nature to help them improve their life conditions.” AADK believes that by helping alleviate the social and financial problems of the people first, it would significantly reduce the chances of drug abuse or drug dealing occurring in the area.
This echoes the conclusion of a famous psychological study on drug addiction called the Rat Park study. The studies by Dr. Alexander compared two groups of rats, all pre-addicted to morphine. He found that the rats living together in the colony drank significantly less morphine than those living alone in isolation. This suggests that instead of the drugs causing the problems of drug addiction, it is rather, the cage.
The community outreach programme really helped me see this issue in reality. One of our respondents in particular tells us that in hopes of seeking relief from the stressful events of life, a close friend of his resorted to substance abuse. Seeing the life conditions of the people living in these high-risk areas wakes us up to the reality of the situation; some people do still live in “cages”, rather than “parks”.
During a short dialogue with Encik Kamal after the morning session, he added that students should take the issues of drug addiction more seriously by educating themselves as well as spreading accurate information on the issue. It is encouraged for students to try to involve themselves in outreach programmes like these to raise their awareness on the current war on drugs and give help to the people in need. ***
(This volunteering programme is part of the Community Engagement programme by AHAS KIRKHS under the Department of English Language and Literature, coordinated by Dr. Homam Altabaa)
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