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Screening Students For Substance Abuse Continues
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Screening Students For Substance Abuse Continues

The third phase of screening and assessment for substance abuse among junior high and high school students will commence soon. Head of research at the Drug Control Headquarters Hamid Sarami said the data would be collected until early July next year.
‘’Different types of substance abuse from cigarette and hookah smoking - considered precursors to more serious addictions - and soft drugs such as opium to hard drugs like heroin as well as hallucinogens like marijuana and methamphetamine will be assessed among students,’’ Sarami said, quoted by ISNA. The screening will take place in 31 provinces across the country.
He said the first time screening was undertaken was in 2002 when it was found that the prevalence of substance abuse among students ranging from third grade of junior high to high school seniors was 0.5 %. The results of the second assessment, conducted in 2011, among the same age groups found that the incidence of abuse had increased to 1%.
 Awareness
‘’We need to carry out fresh assessment and the necessary arrangements were made with senior education officials to commence the new screening from late November,’’ said Sarami. One of the aims of the initiative is to raise awareness among students about the dangers of drug abuse.
‘’It’s worrying to see 50% of school children know little about drug addiction and this will be a wake-up call,’’ he said, adding that the “capacities of schools should be expanded to address this aspect.’’  
He said although issues related to drug abuse have been addressed in the textbooks of seventh and eighth graders, it is not sufficient and more work must be done. “We must make use of the one million strong education personnel to convey eye-opening messages to school children according to their age and level of understanding,’’ Sarami noted. The scope of the education content delivered by teachers and the role of parents in raising awareness is equally important, he added.

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