Fighting the Scourge of Drugs
National anti-drug campaign by Church of Scientology picks up momentum; educational materials and lectures help stem the tide of abuse.
Recent national statistics continue to sound the alarm that drug abuse is raging out of control in Ireland.
There are more than 15,000 drug addicts in Dublin alone, and Irish teenagers are Europe’s biggest Ecstasy and amphetamine abusers. One recent survey found that nearly 60 percent of young people in the country have tried illegal drugs.
Efforts to bring Ireland’s substance abuse problem under control have met with little success, leaving many people frustrated about finding real solutions.
Officials, rather than being encouraged to take effective measures to stem the tide of abuse, are increasingly being advised by “drug experts” or lobbied to support programmes that actually promote habitual drug use.
The mindset of some officials responsible for drug handling over the past decade has degenerated to an apathetic belief that the drug problem is unsolvable and has become entrenched within society. Priorities have shifted to dealing with only the worst consequences of drug abuse: overdose deaths, AIDS, Hepatitis C and burgeoning criminality.
THE ONLY LONG-TERM SOLUTION
However, in April 2001, the Government set forth a “National Drugs Strategy” which endorses four “pillars” designed to tackle the full spectrum of drug abuse concerns. In addition to supply reduction, treatment and research into ongoing trends in dealing with reduction and treatment, the Government’s strategy includes a most critical element: prevention through drug awareness and drug education programmes.
It is the latter “pillar” to which the Church of Scientology’s “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life” drug prevention campaign throughout Europe is dedicated. Its purpose is to provide factual information about drugs to children, teenagers and adults.
“Effective education is the only long-term solution to the drug problem,” said Siobhan Ryan, leader of the Dublin “Say No to Drugs” effort. “Only when children — and the adults who love and care for them — really understand what drugs do, can a youngster make truly informed and responsible decisions. Experience has shown that education is our best means of prevention.”
An integral part of the Church’s educational actions are small, informative booklets published by the campaign’s organizers and distributed in the millions all over the European continent. Each explains the dangers of one of several common street drugs — heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy and cannabis. Most recently a guide on drug abuse for parents and teachers has been added to the list of publications.
The volunteers disseminate their information in neighbourhoods where illicit drugs can be found, or which young people frequent. Equipped with hundreds of booklets, volunteers fan out through cities all across Europe, distributing booklets to public and providing stocks for shops and restaurants, police stations, schools and nightclubs. In 2002 alone, more than six million booklets and 12 million informative anti-drug fliers were distributed throughout Europe.
In Dublin recently, volunteers participated in a three-day festival of drug education events — “Jive Aces and Friends United Against Drugs” — sponsored jointly by the Church of Scientology and many other organisations, including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.
Among the most ardent supporters of the campaign have been city officials, along with local law enforcement spokespersons, who have observed for themselves the devastation of drugs in their communities.
“What I am concerned about as a politician is the amount of suicides related to the increased number of young people taking drugs,” said Councillor W. Frank Godfrey, former three-time Mayor of Drogheda. “The effect that this has on families concerns me more than everything else. Drugs are slowly destroying Ireland. We must wake up,” he urged.
Superintendent Eddie Finucane, of Ballyfermot and Clondalkin Gardai, also welcomed the Church’s “Say No to Drugs” effort, telling Freedom, “Any bit of help the Gardai can get in the fight against drugs and the evil that they bring is most appreciated — particularly when it is from good, genuine people like the Church of Scientology. I salute any volunteer group like these people, who are working for the betterment of our fellow human beings.
“The people of Ballyfermot are hard workers, salt of the earth people, and our doors are open to the Church of Scientology to help in the future,” Finucane said.
Awakened officials, parents, educators, law enforcement officers and others concerned with children and social issues are rapidly finding that the Church’s campaign fills a void.
“I have to say that your people have been a breath of fresh air in Dublin. It’s good that you give this message to youngsters to turn away from drugs,” said Councillor Godfrey. “You people have got it and you are doing something about it.”
TURNING THE TIDE
Most important to the campaign’s organizers are the results and changes that occur as a result of their campaign.
Volunteers were approached in Dublin, for example, by two young women with toddler children, who said they wanted to come off drugs, and comments from children reveal that the message is getting through:
“I have learned my lesson and won’t get into drugs,” “Now I am telling my friends about the dangers of drugs and several have stopped taking them as a result,” “I was going to start, until I read your booklets — now I’ll never do drugs,” are typical responses.
“The information in these booklets gives our youth the opportunity to make the choice of whether or not to try drugs,” says Ryan.
“It’s then a choice based on facts, rather than an enforced choice between peer pressure to do drugs and fear tactics from adults not to,” she said. “That decision has to be their own, and that is the key point of our campaign.”
For information on the drug problem in Ireland — and its solutions — contact Freedom at 01 872 0007 or write to us at: email@example.com