Malaysian children are starting early on substance use, thanks to their careless parents who leave drugs lying around the house after getting high, said National Anti-Drug Agency (NADA) deputy director-general Azizan Ariffin.

Azizan said kids as young as seven are getting addicted not only because of their drug-using parents, but also because these illegal substances are cheaper nowadays, Malay Mail Online reported.

An ecstasy pill used to cost RM100 a decade ago, but it is now available for just RM10, he said, adding that the number of drug users increased throughout the years and that this could get worse because of unrecorded incidents.

To deal with the worsening drug problem in the country, the Malaysian Substance Abuse Council was formed (MSAC), headed by Datuk Mohammad Yunus Pathi.

Yunus said the council is an umbrella group for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that focus on drug prevention and awareness. Currently, it has 60 members including the NADA.

“Most of the council members are ex-addicts. Hence, we believe we know what needs to be done to solve the problem,” Malay Mail quoted him as saying. “Malaysian Substance Abuse Council believes no one method will help all addicts. We need to know why they are using the drugs and what they need to break their addiction.”

Spiritual-centred programmes and therapy both at government and private rehabilitation centres are part of the body’s action plans.

There are members of the NGO that work with certain communities, such as single mothers and teenage mothers who turn to drugs to escape their miseries, said Yunus, adding that proper training and accreditation would be given to members prior to their outreach work.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, also the council’s patron, said the government saw the need to try varied methods to solve the drug problem in Malaysia, which had existed since 1983.

“I am worried for the future of our youths who are also our human capital,” Malay Mail quoted him as saying. “This nation needs our youths and I believe Malaysian Substance Abuse Council would play a huge role in making this a reality.”

The government would give RM2 million to the council annually to continue its programmes, said Zahid. MIMS