During an official visit to Gozo, the President of Malta, Dr. George Vella, and his wife, Mrs. Miriam Vella, visited the OASI Center to meet with residents and staff. The President had words of encouragement for those doing the residential program, and thanked them for sharing their experiences with him.
In parenting, when the parents are overly authoritative or protective, it is likely that the result will have the opposite effect. Very often, the result of such parenting would be that the child builds an attitude and a reaction that can lead to all sorts of things that can go totally against the parents’ expectations and wishes. Therefore, parental emotions should always be linked to good judgement and values. Parents need to be clear when they express themselves and show their affection in a way that children understand them well and do not misinterpret them.
Parents should be confident and sure of their decisions, as it may happen that they pass on this same insecure feeling on to their own children without being aware of doing so. This sense of insecurity in children will surely contribute in making wrong choices in their future.
Excessive ambition in parents also creates tension in a family environment; tension that creates unnecessary stress and often pose a great threat on the health and unity of the family. In a family environment where such tensions exist, children find it difficult to make good decisions which can help them find balance in their life. It is a fact that in every family there will be incidents that will make every parent feel a little angry, but parents should never exaggerate in their reactions. Contrary to this, they should not ignore these incidents and act as if nothing had happened.
Parents should always be responsible for their actions despite the tension created around them. Sometimes children become aggressive towards their parents. Some children are capable of using the threat ‘weapon’ which frightens some parents, who will in turn go back on their own decisions when they should not have done so. But when parents are convincing and remain adamant about the way decisions have been taken, this usually does not happen.
It is important for parents to understand that, when it comes to taking a decision about an important choice in their lives, children always keep in mind how their parents might react to the news or to the action already taken. It is therefore very important that from a very early age, parents should, with love, wisdom and great patience, clearly explain to their children the values of life and the limits which are expected from them. For children to grow healthy, mentally strong and mature, they need clear and consistent guidelines from their early years and throughout their upbringing.
Good parenting must lead to the building of a strong character, a character which when on its own, reasons in a way that one must not simply act in the same way as others are doing without first evaluating if it is right or safe for oneself to do so. Also, a sound upbringing is built on certain values that teach us about denying and sacrificing ourselves from what we might want at the moment. There are many material things in the world that we would want, but not everything that exists can be good for us, at least not necessarily when, where and when we want.
These are just a few tips on good parenting. The list is however never-ending. When one choses to create a family, one must also understand that, first and foremost, one needs to take full responsibility for one’s own decisions - to be a good parent, to acknowledge what one wants and appreciate one’s own life but most of all, understands the reason why the decision of bringing children into the world was taken. We must understand that children are the result of a decision taken by the parents, as well as that of the society created or otherwise tolerated by the parents themselves.
Daily life has developed in such a way that one is finding oneself in stressful situations that are threatening to one’s health. The causes can be many and also vary, and sometimes complicated as well. Hereunder we will mention some of these causes.
When you feel unaccepted - One of the most common causes is when one feels unaccepted. This applies to spouses, children, neighbours, relatives, friends and all kinds of relationships, which in order to continue growing and flourishing after their beginning, require constant attention. Today's fast-paced life can lead to not finding enough time for others close to us.
When you overwhelm yourself in an exaggerated way - Some people overdo it in certain routines or lifestyles. One may lose all sense of balance in his life plan with long and exaggerated hours of work that often result in insomnia and lack of rest.
Children are under heavy pressure as regards to studying as if their development depends only on long hours of study and the number of private lessons they attend. Women also oppress themselves when they go on certain diets to maintain their figure. It is very harmful when one goes on a strict diet without the advice and supervision of a doctor specializing in healthy diets.
When you feel you cannot keep up or cope - Sometimes we fall into our own trap when we ask too much of ourselves or when we aim for something bigger than we can ever bear or carry. It happens that one forces oneself to catch up and so as not to be left behind. Since perhaps the goal is too great, after some time one begins to feel frustrated and incapable.
Lack of self-care - Some people will never get fed up, never stop and are not aware that happiness it is not how much you work and strive, but how one uses one’s abilities that would have worked well to be happy and relaxed. Working hard to make money in the short term is stressful and leads to a lack of attention to personal health. What is the use of money and material possessions when one self-inflicts illnesses?
Lack of proper communication - One needs to communicate constantly with others. Moreover, when one speaks to others, one finds this as relieving of tension and thoughts that are burdening one’s mind and spirit.
When you think of controlling others - Some people think that nothing happens without their input or that everyone is of lesser intelligence. They think they know everything and want to know everything. While people like these do a lot of harm around them, they themselves become victims of stress when they realize, with great disappointment, that it is really impossible to control everyone and everything that happens around them.
Loveless sex - When sex is not or is no longer a tender expression of love then every sexual act becomes mechanical and is often another way of violence or manipulation of others. This creates tension in the person who is feeling used during the moment.
Work not properly catered for the employee - Another cause of tension and stress is work. If the work is not dear to the heart of the employee, then work becomes physical punishment and mental stress. Because work consist of regular and routine tasks, great harm can be done to the employee when work does not match the particular expectations and abilities of the individual.
These and similar situations, create stress and impatience towards those around us, especially on family members. Therefore, in our fast-paced daily routine, we should not allow stress to get the best of us but we should get used to:
- planning well the time needed when handling situations
- keeping a balance between work and leisure
- self-respect and self-love and others
- reasoning out intelligently while being aware of our own emotions and those of others
- not taking ourselves too seriously but looking at ourselves with a sense of humour
- checking that our children in school will be assessed with an aptitude test to help them become aware of their skills and abilities to help them decide which employment suits their skills and abilities
- urging our children to follow our pursuit of good values
- discipline does not mean force - working or acting against the will of the individual is worse than slavery, and certainly causes stress
Being careless can be very dangerous and can become one’s norm in attitude and expression. Therefore, we must be aware of the cause that is causing us stress. Several natural remedies can help relieve stress:
- Time in the countryside or near the sea helps us to relax
- If overwork is the cause of stress, it is good to ask someone to help us
- We do not overload ourselves with work that we will not be able to keep up with
- We practice regular rest
When you feel very angry, talk to someone you know who can understand you and whom you trust before you act out of anger. When you find yourself in a situation where you have no control over yourself, search for peace within yourself.
If we are not able to reduce stress on our own, we should seek the help of a psychologist or the family doctor.
The OASI Foundation would like to thank the Malta Football Association for their kind donation through the Football for Life initiative.
This program distributes a number of donations to NGOs working with people in need in different sectors each year, with OASI being one of this year's chosen recipients.
OASI is in agreement with the MFA that participation in sports such as football can have a positive impact not just on the individual, but on society as a whole, and we look forward to collaborating with the MFA on future events.
While spending time “online” can be very productive, in certain social areas, uncontrolled use of the internet can disrupt many ordinary and serene tasks in everyday life: family, study, work and even personal relationships. If you want to take care of your health you need to be aware of the signs, symptoms and consequences of Internet / Computer Addiction and thus find a balance between your life “online” and your duties “offline” before it is too late.
The proper and the incorrect use of the Internet:
The internet is instant access to information and entertainment not only from the office desk computer but anywhere and anytime via mobiles and other electronic devices.
It is the individual who determines the time spent using the computer or on the internet and whether the time spent was fruitful or not. Each person has various reasons for using the internet. People make use of this technology for productivity and efficiency at work and can also be used to maintain frequent visual contact with relatives and friends near and far.
But internet is only good when used in moderation. When all control of time and reasons of its use is lost, the internet easily becomes a problem because little by little it starts taking up a lot of your personal time which is supposed to be given to other obligations and duties. This happens when a person's attitude towards internet access becomes so repetitive and compulsive that the same person who finds it difficult to let go of the electronic device, even when to eat, talk, go out with friends or family and also to sleep.
So, when one starts to feel more comfortable relating to someone online rather than in person, when one is reluctant to stop playing online or ends up checking the social media constantly, then one is more likely to become, if not already, addicted to social media use or online gaming.
Internet Addiction Disorder
Internet Addiction Disorder is a condition that leads a person to lose control of the mental and emotional ability to stop what one is doing or watching. There are various types of problems related to obsessive and uncontrolled use of the computer and the internet and they come in various and specific names:
- Information Overload - Excessive and continuous searching on the web or database leading to loss in work productivity and complications when interacting with family and friends.
- Computer Addiction – Excessive playing of “offline” games such as Solitaire and Minesweeper and other modern games played without the need to go “online”.
- Net Compulsions – such as gaming sites, stock trading and online shopping. Most of the times such excessive use lead to financial problems and unemployment.
- Cyber Relation Addiction – by use of social networking, chat rooms, texting that lead to virtual relationships becoming more important than the actual family and friends.
- Cyber Sex Addiction – These are adult sexual fantasy sites. Cyber Relation and Cyber Sex addictions are the most dangerous forms of this disorder as they leave a negative impact on the way the person addicted reacts in real life and in his or her intimate relationship with the partner. Depending on the intensity of the addiction, these will also leave negative long term mental and emotional issues in all parties involved.
How to fall victim of the Internet
Negative circumstances can easily coerce you in finding solutions that will relieve you of the sadness of the moment. The internet coerces some users to use it as a way of relieve from stress, loneliness and anxiety linked to negative personal circumstances. When you go online, it helps you forget those sad, painful feelings and gives you the impression that you have solved any issues you had before you went online. But once your mind registers this sort of escapism from all troubles, whenever you are in a stressful situation, it will automatically click inside you the urge to go online and you become eventually dragged into a vicious circle whenever you find yourself in difficulty.
It is therefore important to understand that there are many healthier and more effective ways to release yourself from moments of sadness. These alternatives include exercise, walking, swimming and all kinds of sports. Meditation, yoga and any other relaxation technique will also help.
How can one lessen the urge to go online?
Plan well in advance the time you really need to use the internet in your spare time by:
- making a schedule of when, what time and how long you will use the internet during the day and during the week;
- writing a list of things or moments that trigger you to go online. List them in large print and stick them where you can see them;
- looking for a choice of other things and hobbies that you can do or use instead of going online, such as visiting friends, walking in the countryside etc.;
- rewarding yourself after anything positive you do, not related to internet use for example, after some sports, walking, washing dishes, or clothes or when you finish studying or finishing the last chapter of your favorite book.
What if one doesn’t manage to lessen the urge?
Ultimately, if none of the above helps you lessen the urge of your online addiction, it means that it will be wiser to seek the help of a therapist or other professional guidance since you are not capable to control and reduce this urge on your own.
What made you aware that your husband had an addiction problem?
It took me a long time to realize and accept that he had a problem. I was aware that my husband had depressive symptoms. But it was a particular tragedy in our lives that escalated the gravity of the situation. I hoped that things would get better by time and everything would return to normal. I have lived with this hope for a long time. Many times, I tried to escape from the reality of the problem because I didn’t want to accept it.
During my husband’s heights of his addiction, I avoided meeting people close to us and detached myself from social activities, feeling like I was escaping from the reality we were living in - the reality of fear and heartbreak, especially when I realised that he was losing out on the life of his family — mostly of his own children. Many times, I would end up accepting the situation at that moment and forgive him, but by doing so, instead of helping him and us, I was making the situation even worse. When he used to return home, I would notice immediately that he was not well and this this was happening on a daily basis. Before he entered the program, I avoided all confrontations because I didn't have the energy to fight this reality. Financially, the indications were very clear and psychologically the situation was eventually breaking us down.
Every time my husband used, he would become very impulsive and the reactions were not nice. I would spend many nights lying awake waiting for him to come home and praying that when he arrives, he won’t put up a scene!? Many times, I used to call him to come home! After long, sleepless nights, I would wake up dreading the fact that he will not be getting up to go to work...it was a life of fear and restlessness! Over time I noticed that he was losing weight and that his health was starting to decline. He started to have tremors and he was becoming tensed and the stress he had was indescribable.
What were your feelings when you realised that he had a problem? What was your first reaction?
It took me a long time to admit it to myself. I probably realized it early but I took a long time to react to the problem. There were people who approached me and told me about the gravity of the situation while others decided not to speak. I was often angry as I could never understand how a person could hurt himself and those around him so much. I knew my husband differently. I knew him to be serene and very kind hearted. I knew him as a man who was always willing to do anything for his loved ones and therefore, I was too reluctant to admit that he was an addict and that he needed help from people outside his family. In the midst of his addiction, he continuously lied and began to keep things from me. Before he entered the program my level of anger became so high that it came to a point where we both saw that we had hit rock bottom and something needed to be done to save our relationship.
Did you try to help him yourself? If yes, why and how. If no, why not?
Yes, in the beginning I tried to help him. However, the truth is, in cases like my husband’s, professional help was the best way forward. We have always avoided the word ‘rehabilitation’ due to the sensitivity of his profession. The word was like a taboo for us; until we got to the point where we hit rock bottom and he realised that there was no way out except to seek professional therapy. The initial help we sought was psychological guidance but the problem was in too deep and only the rehabilitation program could help us.
What type of professional guidance where you personally offered prior and during your husband’s course of rehabilitation?
In truthfulness, I found great support from people who went through the similar experience I was going through at the moment. I still found help from people who never experienced addiction but the best support came from those who had already experienced the bitterness of life. Financially it was very hard because I had to cope with the income I had while my husband was pursuing the program. I was extremely worried that he would lose his job and would never find an employer to take him on knowing his problem. Our children suffered as well and felt their father’s absence. Due to the program’s fixed visiting hours, it was difficult to coordinate the right timings between the visiting hours and my working hours and the children’s school hours. The first two months were the most difficult because the children couldn’t understand why their father was away for such a long time and not allowed to go home in the meantime. But two months into the program, we noticed visible improvement. My husband was finding himself again and throughout the program, both our children and myself had found another ‘family’ that welcomed us with open arms and offered all the guidance and therapy needed to overcome the problem as a family. The therapists helped us understand that we were not the only family going through this ordeal and that we were just like many other families going through similar experiences – we needed help, support and immense love to help us out of this ugly situation. We needed someone who would teach us how to relive life in all its simplicity again.
What kind of advice would you give to those who are currently going through the problem of addiction?
Do not be afraid to come forward! No one is perfect. You might feel that your whole world is crumbling down on you but there are people out there ready to help you. A lot of people have been through your same experience and many can support you through it. The most difficult moments are when you are in denial of the situation but this lasts only until you realise and admit that there is a problem. Seek help. Never be ashamed of what you are going through because we are all human with our own weaknesses. Make sure you surround yourself with true, loyal friends! And love with all your heart. Forgiveness is not enough. You would need to learn how to live with an addiction that can always be overcome with proper support whenever needed.
There is also God for those who believe in Him. I believed and believe in Him more when I look back at my family and realise what a long way we have come after hitting rock bottom. There is nothing more beautiful than living life ‘clean’ and once you find your path, it is always advisable to stick to it.
Vienna (Austria), 25 June 2020 – Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 per cent more than in 2009, while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders, according to the latest World Drug Report, released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Report also analyses the impact of COVID-19 on the drug markets, and while its effects are not yet fully known, border and other restrictions linked to the pandemic have already caused shortages of drugs on the street, leading to increased prices and reduced purity.
Rising unemployment and reduced opportunities caused by the pandemic are also likely to disproportionately affect the poorest, making them more vulnerable to drug use and also to drug trafficking and cultivation in order to earn money, the Report says.
“Vulnerable and marginalized groups, youth, women and the poor pay the price for the world drug problem. The COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn threaten to compound drug dangers further still, when our health and social systems have been brough to the brink and our societies are struggling to cope,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly. “We need all governments to show greater solidarity and provide support, to developing countries most of all, to tackle illicit drug trafficking and offer evidence-based services for drug use disorders and related diseases, so we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote justice and leave no one behind.”
Due to COVID-19, traffickers may have to find new routes and methods, and trafficking activities via the darknet and shipments by mail may increase, despite the international postal supply chain being disrupted. The pandemic has also lead to opioid shortages, which in turn may result in people seeking out more readily available substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines or mixing with synthetic drugs. More harmful patterns of use may emerge as some users switch to injecting, or more frequent injecting.
Looking at further effects of the current pandemic, the Report says that if governments react the same way as they did to the economic crisis in 2008, when they reduced drug-related budgets, then interventions such as prevention of drug use and related risk behaviours, drug treatment services, the provision of naloxone for management and reversal of opioid overdose could be hard hit. Interception operations and international cooperation may also become less of a priority, making it easier for traffickers to operate.
Trends in drug use
While cannabis was the most used substance worldwide in 2018, with an estimated 192 million people using it worldwide. Opioids, however, remain the most harmful, as over the past decade, the total number of deaths due to opioid use disorders went up 71 percent, with a 92 per cent increase among women compared with 63 per cent among men.
Drug use increased far more rapidly among developing countries over the 2000-2018 period than in developed countries. Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs, while young people are also the most vulnerable to the effects of drugs because they use the most and their brains are still developing.
While the impact of laws that have legalized cannabis in some jurisdictions is still hard to assess, it is noteworthy that frequent use of cannabis has increased in all of these jurisdictions after legalization. In some of these jurisdictions, more potent cannabis products are also more common in the market.
Cannabis also remains the main drug that brings people into contact with the criminal justice system, accounting for more than half of drug law offences cases, based on data from 69 countries covering the period between 2014 and 2018.
Availability of pharmaceutical opioids for medical consumption varies across the globe
The Report also points out that low-income countries still suffer a critical shortage of pharmaceutical opioids for pain management and palliative care. More than 90 per cent of all pharmaceutical opioids available for medical consumption were in high-income countries in 2018 comprising around 12 per cent of the global population. While the low and middle-income countries comprising 88 per cent of the global population are estimated to consume less than 10 percent of pharmaceutical opioids. Access to pharmaceutical opioids depend on several factors including legislation, culture, health systems and prescribing practices.
Socio-economically disadvantaged face greater risk from drug use disorders
Poverty, limited education and social marginalization remain major factors increasing the risk of drug use disorders and vulnerable and marginalized groups may also face barriers to getting treatment services due to discrimination and stigma.
The World Drug Report and further content is available here: wdr.unodc.org
The 2020 World Drug Report provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health, taking into account the possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights, through improved research and more precise data, that the adverse health consequences of drug use are more widespread than previously thought.
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For further information and interview requests please contact:
Chief, UNODC Advocacy Section
Mobile: (+43-699) 1458-3225
Know more, care more. Addressing the world drug problem requires responses that are based on facts, solidarity and compassion.
Some 35.6 million people suffer from drug use disorders globally, according to the World Drug Report 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Around 269 million people used drugs in 2018, up 30 per cent from 2009. While the increase reflects population growth and other factors, illicit drugs - including opiates and pharmaceutical opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine - are still more available, more diverse and more potent than before, challenging law enforcement, posing greater health risks and complicating efforts to prevent and treat drug use disorders.
Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of those using drugs. Of the 11 million people who inject drugs, half of them are living with hepatitis C, and 1.4 million with HIV.
Only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it. One out of three drug users is a woman but women represent only one out of five people in treatment. People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people also face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.
585,000 died in 2017 in relation to drug use, up one-quarter from 2008. Over the past decade, the total number of deaths due to opioid use disorders went up 71 percent, with a 92 percent increase among women compared with 63 percent among men.
All over the world, we see that risks and consequences of drug use are worsened by poverty, limited opportunities for education and jobs, stigma and social exclusion, which in turn helps to deepen inequalities, moving us further away from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The COVID-19 crisis has intensified these challenges further still, overwhelming health systems and exposing the fragility of institutions and social safety nets.
The theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, “Better Knowledge for Better Care”, highlights the need to understand drug dynamics trapping so many millions of people in a downward spiral, to inform balanced solutions that are based on scientific evidence, to know better what the issues are and to provide better care for those who need it.
Health-centred, rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to drug use and related diseases deliver better public health, and we need to do more to share this learning and support implementation, most of all in developing countries.
Governments pledged to advance such balanced, comprehensive and evidence-based responses in the 2019 CND Ministerial Declaration. In the COVID-19 recovery, we need all countries to act on their commitments, and show shared responsibility to tackle illicit drug supply and reduce demand. We need civil society and youth organizations to continue their efforts to support the vulnerable in their communities.
Together, we can pursue more effective prevention and protection, to build resilience as we build back better, and leave no one behind.
Mutual support and trustworthy information have proven to be pillars of responding effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic and saving lives.
Cooperation, reliable data and evidence-based action are just as vital to addressing the many challenges posed by the world drug problem, protecting people’s security and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
This year’s theme of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking -- “Better Knowledge for Better Care” -- speaks to the need to build solutions based on facts and shared responsibility.
The international community has a solid foundation for action, with an agreed legal framework and commitments outlined in the 2019 Ministerial Declaration of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The United Nations, in line with its common position on drug policy, is also enriching the evidence base, including through the annual UNODC World Drug Report.
We must also strive to build on what works. As Prime Minister of Portugal more than two decades ago, my government launched a drug policy rooted in taking strong action in two areas. First, by cracking down on drug trafficking and those who profit from human misery. And, second, on making sure that those who need treatment get it. Those who develop an addiction to drugs are first and foremost patients and victims. That approach succeeded and drug consumption went down significantly, particularly among young people. Today, Portugal has one of Europe’s lowest death rates from drug use.
Together, we can develop sustainable alternatives to illicit drug crop cultivation; tackle drug trafficking and related organized crime; and advance justice responses as well as prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug use and related HIV interventions. And we can do so in ways that are sensitive to the needs of women, young people and marginalized groups and that respect human rights.