Embracing Empathy for Drug Prevention

Every year on 26 Jun, the world commemorates the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (also known as World Drug Day). This year, the theme, "The evidence is clear: invest in prevention", recognises that effective drug policies must be rooted in science, research, full respect for human rights, compassion, and a deep understanding of the social, economic, and health implications of drug use. At KELY, we believe in addressing the root causes of drug abuse with empathy and understanding, not judgement.

The Current Landscape

According to law enforcement data, in the first quarter of 2024, there were 767 drug offence arrests in Hong Kong, including 62 individuals under 21 years old. More than half of young drug traffickers sentenced received over 5 years imprisonment, with the longest sentence being nearly 22 years.

Understanding and Addressing Youth Drug Use

The Appeal of Substance Use

For many young people, drug use stems from curiosity, peer pressure, or the desire to escape stress. Understanding these factors is crucial in developing effective prevention strategies that resonate with young individuals.

Stigma and Its Impact

Stigma and discrimination can isolate individuals, pushing them towards secrecy rather than seeking help. By promoting an environment where young people feel safe to discuss their experiences and challenges, we can better support them in making positive choices.

The Role of Community Support and Education

Community support and education are vital. KELY focuses on creating educational content that is scientific evidence-based, emphasising the real-life consequences of substance abuse. We hope to empower youths with the information and support they need to serve as catalysts for positive transformation in their communities. They will champion efforts to prevent substance abuse and ensure their perspectives are heard in discussions.

Strategies for Prevention

Early Conversations

Open discussions about drug use, initiated early in a youth's life, can set a foundation for trust and openness. These conversations should be age-appropriate and centred around understanding rather than fear-mongering.

Supportive Environments

Parents play a critical role in prevention. By fostering a supportive environment, we can help mitigate the factors that often lead to drug use. This includes building strong, trusting relationships and being approachable as confidants.

Recognising Signs

Being aware of the early signs of drug use can help in intervening before the problem escalates. Changes in behaviour, academic performance, or social groups should prompt caring and non-confrontational conversations.

This World Drug Day, let's remember that effective drug prevention is more than just avoiding negative outcomes; it's about creating a supportive, understanding community that prioritises the wellbeing of its members. KELY is committed to putting people first, stopping stigma and discrimination, and strengthening our prevention efforts.

We invite everyone to join us in this crucial endeavour — because when we support each other, we are creating a healthier, more resilient society.