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The situation in Belarus doesn't seem so alarming

by Diana Danchenko, Belarus

Till today our school managed to stay away from the drug problem

It is said that there is nothing absolutely good or absolutely bad in the world. But there is an exception: that is drugs. The person who is on drugs has two ways: either overdozing or AIDS. Very few manage to escape, but only at the begining of the way, which leads to death. The problem is discussed by the mass media, but the number of addicts doesn't seem to dicrease. Some even think that the great attention given to drugs in mass media only raises curiosity in young people. It may be so, but this is just one of the numerous reasons that explain why the statistics give us worse information each year. Many young people make their first injection because of the their curiosity, normal interest. "It is scary to make an injection only at first. Then the person can look on a bloody hand for hours for a vein", says a man, who is now in jail. At first they take drugs to feel good, then to feel normal. Maybe it is also the feeling of freedom which is given to a young person by drugs. The feeling of complete inside freedom. It will take time for him to realize that this freedom is just an illusion, but it is often too late.

The situation in Belarus doesn't seem so alarming in comparison to Germany, for example, or the USA. But the problem exists and increases. Very few know what to do with it. Our authorities borrow some experience and ideas from their foreign colleagues, but still the campaign against drugs is rather languid.One of its achievements is a number of "exchange stations" where drug-takers can get syringes giving away their old ones. This doesn't fight the problem of drugs, but the problem of AIDS. There are several clinics where drug-takers get intensive treatment, but to my mind we should attack the essence of the problem: the young have nothing to do and they start taking drugs for fun. It is almost impossible to get rid of drug addiction, especially if a person takes heroin, which is according to the statistics the most popular drug in Belarus. Nine out of ten take it.

In our town of Slonim there are about 500 addicts, but only 100 of them are registered. There are almost no "serious" drugs here, as they pass Slonim on their way from the East to the West. But poppy and marijuana are grown in our town and distributed by the young as well as by the old who illegally grow poppy and hemp in their backyards. They realize the crime but still get dollars for their "herbs". Of course, such a crime is not unpunished: during last months there have been arrested about 20 people for storage and distribution. More and more often the arrested appear to be teenagers. The addicts are getting younger.

Till today our school managed to stay away from the drug problem but we cannot be sure that the situation won't change.

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