By Khalida Amir:
Drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan, especially amongst youth from colleges and universities. This is resulting in serious social and health implications. According to statistics, there are nine million drug addicts in Pakistan, out of which two million are between the ages of 15 to 25. According to studies almost 5.8 per cent of the adult population, approximately 6.4 million persons or one in every 27 persons in Pakistan is using drugs while nearly 25 per cent of the youth population is involved in some form of drug abuse in Pakistan.
Region wise drugs are most common in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa where 11 per cent of the population uses drugs, followed by Sindh where 6.5 per cent of the population is a drug addict. In Balochistan, almost five per cent population uses drugs while in Punjab, 4.8 per cent of the population is a drug addict. Drug addiction is harmful not only for the addicted but also has negative impact on the fabric of our society. This could cause social isolation, stress, spending excessive time on social networking sites, depression, health issues and unhealthy activities. Education could play a positive role in this regard by creating awareness among students in educational institutions about the bad effects of drugs in their lives.
Sports are also a solution for diverting youth from the usage of drugs. Sport activities provide children and youth with many opportunities to grow physically, socially and emotionally. Moreover, physical activities with other children allow them to build social skills through peer interaction and give a chance to develop friendship. While the physical health benefits that sports provide to youth are certainly important, the social benefits may be what lead children to sports. Being able to spend time with their friends outside of school is more important to children than knowing they are physically active.
Social interaction in team sports teaches youth to unite with their peers, solve conflict, and communicate effectively amongst their peers. To ensure the engagement of youth in sports in Punjab, Government of Punjab launched Punjab Youth Festival in 2012. Participation in the PYF has exceeded all expectations and one can expect greater participation as compared to last year since the response by the youth is really commendable. Member of National Assembly Hamza Shahbaz Sharif is monitoring the whole event by himself. PYF is bringing positive changes in the youth, which will automatically have a good impact on the society.
Furthermore, sports also increases children’s positive social interaction with adults and one another. Sports provide numerous opportunities for children and teenagers to grow socially, emotionally, and physically. Organizing such events for the youth will keep them away from drugs and give them a chance to engage in sports activities. More importantly, it will reduce the usage of drug use in youth. In order to achieve her goals, there is a need for sustained engagement and coordinated action amongst youth.