|Information About the Drug Abuse Prevention Center
Key Points on the Production of Prevention and Education Material and an Effective Awareness Campaign
When campaigns against drug abuse are mentioned, they are often confused
with movements to ban alcohol or tobacco, and this makes anti-drug education
Cigarettes and alcohol are legal for those over 20 years age in Japan.
They are personal matters, not subject to punishment. You may be thanked
for cautions and advice given out of concern for person's health, but,
where drugs are concerned, it is a completely different matter. If you
carelessly tell an adult friend in Japan, "Those stimulants are bad for
you, cut it out!", that person is lawbreaker so you are threatening his
personal freedom by acknowledging his drug use. In Japan, in contrast
to other countries, laws against drug abuse are stringently enforced and
are applicable to the offenses of illegal drug possession and drug abuse.
In short, if you carelessly tell a friend to quit, he could fly into a
rage. Therefore, even in the closest friend or family relationship, it's
not something that can be discussed. For this reason, between adults,
the other's point of view and personality must be respected. In this situation,
it is difficult to smoothly develop campaigns going under the name of
drug abuse prevention. Another characteristic is that drug abuse invades
the brain, in other words it ruins the heart and mind, rendering the person
unable to live a normal life in society. Furthermore, we humans are alone
in possessing hearts and minds and only we can solve this problem, so
it can truly be said to be a difficult one.
At the same time, most people still have an image of drugs as something
that affects other people. They are largely indifferent to narcotics and
stimulants as they are to organized crime, hoping to avoid these problems
all of their lives.
Therefore, a general kind of campaign will initially be encouraged
by the public. As a rule, however, PR between adults and between friends
is difficult, so it is necessary to try a slightly different approach.
One change is to transform the previously gloomy image into a bright, healthy one, and another is to change the way of conveying the massage.
If the spearhead of the a campaign's activities is developed in the
anti-drug education of minors (in the same way as it is for alcohol and
cigarettes), particularly young junior high school students, these children
may have the previously mentioned kind of discussion with their friends.
In comparison with discussion between adults, however, they only see that
which is the current topic on TV and other media. This point shows that
the real energy of a drug abuse prevention campaign should start with
the preventive education of junior high school students.
According to a recent American report on the drug problem, the number
of drug abuser has declined by between 15% and 20%. The reduction among
high schools students is particularly conspicuous. This is result of drug
abuse prevention education in schools, particularly the propagation of
accurate information about the harm to body and mind, the crimes caused,
and the breakdown of home and society due to drug abuse. In a Japan-U.S.
Symposium jointly sponsored by this Center and an equivalent American
NGO (PRIDE) in January 1993, Dr. Gleaton, head of PRIDE, gave valuable
suggestions for Japan's narcotics countermeasures based on America's bitter
experience. In 1959, drug abusers in America were a mere 1% of the population
and, at the tame, drug abuse was a personal matter. Some specialists looked
leniently population on drug abuse, and there was little concern with
education against it. As a result, ten years later drug abuse had spread
to such an extent that 60% of the population had experience with drugs.
Now drug abuse is permeating to even primary school children, and this
is the gravest social problem in America "What I would like to suggest
here is that the state of America 25 years ago and that of Japan today
are alarmingly similar," Dr. Gleaton said. "But this time, I wish to see
toward a wonderful Japan 25 years from now in the repercussions in the
future. The holding of this symposium and the progress to be expected
against drug abuse will give birth to a bright future for Japan."