© UNICEF Malaysia/2008
Students from SMK Klebang Besar secondary school in Malacca, a state in central Malaysia, participate in a school-wide event to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS prevention as part of a UNICEF and Ministry of Education programme to introduce life skills-based education in schools. By Tee Shiao Eek
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 22 July 2009 – Sharkozy (not his real name) began living the 'high society' life 10 years ago, when he started experimenting with marijuana and Erimin-5 with the local boys in his neighbourhood. He then spent the next three years dabbling in various illegal substances, including heroin and morphine.
His drug use took him from intense highs to extreme lows. But in the end, the high could not last. Wary of what the drugs would turn him into, he decided to stop. Now in his mid-twenties, Sharkozy is drug-free and works as a businessman in Kuala Lumpur.
"I can see things more clearly now," he says. "I value my life and want to be able to achieve more."
Curiosity leads to abuse
Like many other young people, Sharkozy was simply curious about drugs when he began using them. "I just wanted to try it. I thought, if drugs are bad, why would people take them?" he recalls.
Young people often begin experimenting with illicit drugs during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood, when they are less able to evaluate the dangers or likely consequences of their behaviour. As UNICEF Representative in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Youssouf Oomar points out, young people often begin experimenting with illicit drugs during their transition from adolescence to young adulthood.
In Malaysia, the National Anti-Drug Agency reported in 2008 that two of the top reasons teenagers cited for using drugs were peer influence and curiosity. Mr. Youssouf cautions that such experimentation can lead to abuse, as young...