EDITORIAL

Drugs in disguise

Not few of the government measures turn into the opposite of their intended goals and boost the noxious effect they have been meant to prevent. This opposite reaction results not because the measures concerned are inadequate, but since they lack complementary elements, which renders them useless. The only thing government officials are rallying for is their own self-interest. The drug market being so much on the rise in Romania stands proof to it. To diminish it, if not do away with it altogether, several actions have been taken, from the non-confidence motion submitted by the opposition last spring, to legislative initiatives nominating the incriminated substances, also including emergency government ordinances banning scores of ethno-botanical substances, and on to specific medical treatments to over 200,000 consumers of “legal drugs”.

All these measures, well-intended as they are, have failed reaching their goal from the “simple” reason that they are not correlated with one another. As a result, drugs sneak through legislative loopholes, yet under disguise. From classical narcotics, hard or light, the fake sticker labels progress from “ethno-botanical plants” or “hallucinogens”. To “euphoric substances”, “liquid gold”, “teas”, “bath salt” a.s.o. In the face of such “transfiguration”, authorities eventually decided to close down all those shops. Yet, they are now amazed to see how those shops proliferate online, with the mention: the “lowest price in Romania, originally from The Netherlands”. Yes, along with Great Britain and Germany, The Netherlands is among the countries with the most websites marketing ethno-botanical substances, including in Romania.

The visitors of ethno-botanical websites are mostly from large cities, with Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca topping the list, according to a study conducted by the National Anti-Drug Agency. The explanation lies exactly with such large urban agglomerations providing the most favourable environment for hallucinogen consumption. Favourable conditions go hand in hand with deep poverty and lack of elementary education, with addicts acquiring the drug habit at a very early age. This explains 88.4 pc of drug consumers in 2010 being from urban areas, of whom 45.5 pc were unemployed, and 26.4 pc, students and 9.1 pc, pupils. It is the school pupil segment that’s on the rise from one year to another, so much so that consumers are as young as 9-10 years of age. When drug consumption and alcohol intake are associated, they prove a deadly cocktail, despite the specialized treatment.

The more shattering such strategies are, as we know drugs were practically unheard of in Romania before 1990. Many of the parents in countries such as The Federal Republic of Germany, Israel, Arab countries, and others, opted to register their children with universities in Romania, also for this country being drug-free actually. In today’s Romania however, mortality rates, including from suicides induced by drug use, rank second to deaths from traffic accidents “Peer pressure”, which psychologists associate with the underage group, is often called upon in relation with rising violence and juvenile delinquency. Since these drugs originally came from the Near or the Far East, or even further away, the opposition to Romania becoming part of the Schengen area called on strengthened border control aimed at halting drug trafficking. As Romania managed to carry out the security measures required, such opposition is groundless.

Yet, it is exactly this kind of pressure that leads to drugs “perfecting” their labels, so they are mistaken for medicinal plants, mostly by the underage. This is why years ago, all the underage group structures, along with government and education decision-makers have drafted a national drug and juvenal delinquency prevention and fighting Program.
School was supposed to signal the serious consequences of drug use. Medical and counselling offices in schools should militate more actively to promote health, moral and civic education. Camps and contests where the underage could be warned about the noxious effects of drug consumption should be among the initiatives that need to be taken.

Most of those initiatives however remained in the stage of good intentions. Meanwhile, the school dropout rate hit 20 pc. Along with rising poverty, increases the umber of children whose parents leave to work abroad, and from where potential drug users too are recruited. We hope that the view of some European leaders that light drug fighting strategy has failed dismally will not provide an incentive for similar reactions from Romanian politicians. Since, unfortunately, when power changes hands in Romania, previous good intentions too are discarded. And everything starts from scratch, again and again.

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