SHILLONG: An alarming statistic about tobacco usage among school children in Meghalaya has raised health concerns in the state.
According to data revealed by SAN-KER, a drug rehabilitation centre in Shillong, Meghalaya tops the chart with the highest tobacco use among schoolchildren at a staggering 96.4% in the Northeast.
This was revealed by Dr Sandi Syiem, Director of SAN-KER, at an awareness programme against drug abuse organised by the Shillong All Faith Forum (SAFF) to shed light on addiction issues prevalent among the state’s youth, on December 5.
Dr. Syiem’s presentation highlighted the concerning figures, with Nagaland closely following at 95.8% and Sikkim at 93.1% in the region.
The alarming statistics underscored the urgent need for intervention strategies and heightened awareness to address the growing crisis of substance abuse among school children.
During his address at the programme, Dr. Syiem also highlighted the importance of identifying addicts, intervention methods, and breaking through denial while helping patients recognise the adverse consequences of addiction disorders.
In a bid to dispel stigmas surrounding addiction, Dr. Syiem invited two recovering addicts who have successfully maintained sobriety for about four years.
Their stories highlighted the societal and community support needed to aid individuals in their battle against addiction.
Reinforcing the significance of family and psychological intervention, recovering addicts shared their experiences, emphasising that the first step to recovery is acknowledging the existence of a problem.
Dr. Syiem, while drawing attention to global perspectives on the “War on Drugs”, highlighted a crucial point, questioning the placement of drug and substance abuse under Social Welfare rather than the Health Department.
He said that treating addiction as a disease is crucial for achieving meaningful progress.
Dr. Syiem also criticised the government’s revenue generation method from the alcohol industry, urging a re-evaluation of policies to align with the fight against substance abuse.