Ivato (Madagascar). On 10 February 2024, at the Hall of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Mary Help of Christians Community of Ivato, Province of Mary Source of Life (MDG), a conference was held organized by the Salesian Youth Movement on drug dependence, made in collaboration with RDB (Radio Don Bosco) Live, with the support of an Association that deals with prevention.

The meeting was attended by many young people from the FMA and SDB Centers and others from the parish and schools of Ivato. Many also followed the live broadcast on RDB Live.

The National Coordinator of SYM Madagascar decided to organize a conference on this issue to raise awareness of the growing trend of drug use. He therefore invited a team of experts who, in their presentations, asked the young people three questions: What are drugs for you? What are the different types of drugs in Madagascar? Who uses them?

In the first presentation, Mrs. Aina described drugs as addictive substances, as well as alcohol and tobacco, and now also phones and new technologies, from which we sometimes cannot separate ourselves. She then spoke of adolescence as a phase of human life – since most of the young people present were teenagers – recalling that it is a time characterized by fragility and vulnerability, in which many experiences are lived and in which, as the writer Hafid Aggoune says, we are faced with the choice between life and death.

Regarding the reasons that lead a young person to make use of substances, she recalled possible family experiences, or friendships with drug addicts, which can lead to imitation for fear of losing the friendship, or self-esteem, as well as leading to marginalization. For example, when someone does not follow the group, friends can make fun of them by saying “you are not fashionable; you are not one of us”. If the person does not have a strong personality, he/she is tempted and is easily attracted.

Other factors that can attract young people to substance use are: family history, the presence of emotional or mental health problems, a sense of rejection, a history of trauma or violence, low self-esteem, the desire to try new things and take risks, peer pressure, feeling part of a group, popular culture, social norms, performance improvement, relief (e.g. from depression, etc.). Some even think that drugs help them solve their problems, while in reality they add new ones, first of all, drug addiction.

After examining the risk factors that motivate young people to take drugs, the consequences of consumption were discussed: first of all, the break-up of the family unit, of friendships, and dissolution of the bank account. Drugs enslave people and make them lose control of themselves.

Experts therefore urged young people not to experiment with substances, because it is very difficult to cure themselves or get out of drug addiction. They provided them with some alternatives such as playing sports or going to the library to read or study, because idleness leads to addiction. They also explained that it is important to organize your life according to a plan making serious decisions with the support of educators.

The young people expressed a great interest in these topics, with active participation during the conference. The team that held the meeting recommended them to always cultivate and preserve their personal self-esteem and dignity, to feel precious as children of God, and to protect their lives like gold, to help the country to get out of these problems. The day ended with a dance performance and thanks on behalf of the National Coordinators of the Salesian Youth Movement in Madagascar.


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