|Saturday, 10 May 2003|
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A broad-based response needed to social afflictions
Our front page lead story yesterday was a veritable expose of the overwhelming proportions to which hard drug addiction has grown in this country. The unsettling news is that nearly Rs. 50 million is being spent by local drug addicts per day on their self-destructive habit. While the number of drug addicts is in the region of 100,000, nearly 10,000 of them are from the Colombo Metropolitan area.
Thus are the country's afflictions steadily proliferating. Coupled with the high tide of criminality - which is marked by an unprecedented brutality and gruesomeness - hard drug addiction fills the country's cup of sorrow to the fullest.
As we suggested in our editorial yesterday, in relation to the country's crime phenomenon, the scourge of drug addiction too should alert all responsible sections in society to the need to launch urgent, untiring efforts to eliminate the agonizing affliction from our midst. In fact, the connection between crime and hard drug addiction could be close. It is well known that an addict who is desperate for his daily "fix" would go to any lengths to find the money to feed his deadly habit.
The increasingly barbaric nature of crime in Sri Lanka suggests the existence of this vicious nexus. For instance, brutality of the kind which was unleashed on the three-member family at Frazer Avenue, in Dehiwala, on Wednesday night, suggests perhaps, a drug - induced frenzied consciousness in the killers, although this aspect of the horror needs to be investigated.
These burgeoning social evils, call for a multi-pronged, swift, unrelenting effort to curb them. No longer can we rest content with half-measures or leisurely-activated remedies. While it is the prime responsibility of the State and its law-enforcement agencies to curb these evils, we are also badly in need of a multi-sectoral, wide-ranging effort to bring these scourges under control.
More specifically, the administrators of justice, the legal fraternity, religious leaders and bodies, parents and elders and schools, should combine and coordinate with the law-enforcers, such as the police, to curb these twin evils of crime and hard drug addiction.
Civil society, we feel, can no longer remain a passive onlooker of these national calamities. Religious institutions, for instance, which dot every highway and by way in the country, could utilize these crises as springboards to play a socially-beneficial role, along with all relevant sections. The police too could enlist their support in meeting these challenges.
Once again we urge that the kingpins in the drug trade be brought to justice. If influential sections are involved in perpetrating this wasting cancer, they shouldn't be shielded from the due process of law. Netting the small fry only would no longer suffice.
The need is also great for parents and elders to keep an eagle eye on their children and wards. It is neglected, love-starved youngsters who usually fall for the evil-designs of the drug pusher. There is no alternative to parents and elders loving and caring deeply for their wards.
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