NGO Good Neighbours Cambodia (GNC) has released a report which said that 3.4 per cent of youths had tried drugs and another 4.9 per cent were enticed or forced into using narcotics by friends and neighbours.
GNC said a survey of 283 youths from 13 to 18-years-old was conducted between May and July this year in Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces.
Nearly 16 per cent of the young adults reported they had witnessed drug trafficking in their communities. Most said they had not dared to report the cases to police out of fear for their safety.
More than 81 per cent of adults aged 18 to 30-years said they had witnessed drug transactions with their own eyes, the GNC report said.
Chem Nita, a youth of Sisophon city’s Teuk Thla commune in Banteay Meanchey who took part in the study, said at a press conference that the majority of drug users in her commune were aged between 18 and 25 years, with most being school dropouts.
“Most of the drug users follow the crowd. When they go for a walk together, one consumes drugs and others follow suit.
“Police arrest them and then they are released, most of them remain in the same condition as before their arrest. Some victims increase their abuse even more than before,” Nita said.
A press conference to announce the findings was attended by officials from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, commune authorities, teachers and students.
Good Neighbors Cambodia director Jaekyun Rho said some 5.6 per cent of the global adult population in 2016 had abused drugs or had at least experimented with them on one occasion. He said a further 167,550 people had died as a result of drug abuse.
“A feeling of euphoria is not created by using drugs. Drugs have never brought riches, fame or happiness. On the contrary, it brings disgrace to society,” Rho said.
Rho said that during the survey, the GNC youth group discovered that a result of drug abuse included robberies, violence, organised crime, family division, suicide and sex work.
GNC helped train 40 volunteer youths in preparing questionnaires, interviews and collecting data to survey the Kingdom.
NACD deputy secretary-general Thong Sokunthea applauded the survey but encouraged future ones to be conducted in cooperation with local authorities to help reduce bias in data collection.
“The study is very good . . . I support it and ask organisers to expand its scope because we surveyed only target areas. It is still lacking information and is yet to represent wide-ranging data [from other provinces].
During the first eight months of this year, there were more than 9,000 drug victims and traffickers. The current figures are yet to decrease and this presents a health problem. The government is trying hard to solve it,” Sokunthea said.