Geraldine González Williman is an expert in the prevention and treatment of addictions of legal or illegal drugs. In this interview, details on the plans of action applicable to the Paraguay to combat a scourge that every day grows more.
How difficult it is, at present, prevent the use of illegal drugs in the Paraguay?
Currently, we have available the scientific evidence-based strategies, which if applied correctly have an optimal range. The evidence shows that between groups and communities where these strategies are applied is reduced significantly the use of addictive substances.
Unfortunately, in the Paraguay, there is a shortage of professionals who are specialized in the science of prevention of the disorders by the use of addictive substances. Therefore, to continue with practices which do not yield favorable results.
High consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by children and adolescents from all sectors reflects the limited professional capacity in this field we have in Paraguay. It continues to offer talks, it instills fear, is threatened with repression, for example, that it has little to do with science-based prevention programs.
Then, managers design and implement programmes of prevention of the disorders by the use of addictive substances to continue with the same talk, it will be very difficult to prevent the disorders by the use of addictive substances.
At our Center, "Life projects", which is an NGO that has highly qualified professionals in the prevention and treatment of the disorders by the use of addictive substances, we are seeing great progress because we apply the strategies based on the scientific evidence.
Legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco or controlled drugs cause a greater harm than illegal drugs?
All the drugs are dangerous if used irresponsibly. Therefore it is that we must prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco, crack, marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and other drugs in children and adolescents. Using any of these drugs during adolescence is irresponsible.
It is important to remember that addictive substance use disorders not only impair the quality of life of the individual who uses them, but also harm the quality of life and the dynamics of your close environment and that of their communities.
It is necessary to note that, while alcohol and tobacco are legalized for use in adults, for minors is still an illegal drug. Alcohol is the drug of entry, that children and adolescents begin to use other drugs in Paraguay.
There are many studies on the alcohol and tobacco (i.e. because more people admit to using these drugs and evade respond with respect to illegal drugs). According to the World Health Organization (who), the harmful use of alcohol is related to 200 diseases and disorders. Many accidents of transits and deaths due to aggression and violence are related in our country to the misuse of alcohol. Regarding tobacco, it is known that approximately 7,000,000 people die each year due to tobacco smoke and/or use. Among these, a high percentage corresponds to deaths in children exposed to tobacco (2004 = 28%, who).
Does fight in a practical way the excessive consumption of greater addictive drugs, whether legal or illegal?
The evidence tells us that it is prevention, not the repression the more practical strategy to combat the excessive use of drugs.
Prevention must start in the House, early childhood, then in schools with appropriate strategies for each stage of the child and the adolescent. There are excellent programs for prevention of the use of addictive substances, for parents, for children in pre-school stage, for students and teachers.
'Life projects' offers currently in Paraguay different programmes of prevention, including prevention in classroom, teachers; prevention for parents; community strengthening for the prevention of addiction in the communities. The programs offered by "Life projects" for children and adolescents are made according to the following criteria recommended by science:
-Workshops on factors of protection and risk to children and adolescents in schools and in the Center "Life projects".
-Workshops for children and adolescents who are at high risk of using drugs and / or living in environments in which the use is frequent.
-Support to those who have already begun to use any drugs.
He believes that the Paraguay is correctly applying its system of prevention or combat against illegal drugs? What should be improved?
It is regrettable to have to recognize that Paraguay are not applying evidence-based strategies. The result of this lack of implementation of strategies that work obvious. Every time we have more children and teens who use drugs.
What should be improved? The sense of responsibility on the part of parents, school, community and the State needs to be improved.
There should be more professionals trained in the science of prevention of the disorders by use of substances that actually implement effective strategies.
You should begin to trust in the science of prevention. Many people do not see the need to prevent, believe that it is much expenditure to have budget for prevention. Others believe that their loved ones or to one same drug won't affect. They close their eyes to a reality that we all know: alcohol, tobacco, crack, cocaine and other drugs cause havoc to the individual wearing them and their environment.
Parents must take seriously their responsibility regarding the use of addictive substances.
The leadership of the responsible adults in a family leading to children and adolescents with healthy life projects is primary.
The evidence shows that when parents, schools and communities know and reduce risk factors and increase protective factors, the possibilities of preventing the use of addictive substances and have a quality of life optima are very high.
The accompaniment of the community with clear and precise rules about the values and principles will make the efforts of the families better. So much so that community strengthening, the union, cooperation between all sectors of the community is part of a chain of strategies to prevent the use of addictive substances in children and adolescents.
What are the social consequences that can have long-term in a society that is not controlling illegal or chemical drugs?
Prevention Science tells us that it is better to prevent than cure. Prevention is less expensive, less painful, avoid hazards, insecurity, diseases, irreversible damage, deaths, financial ruins, etc.
If we look at the possible damage from the point of view of a country and its population, it is worrying. A country in which proliferates the use of addictive substances in children and adolescents will be, in the short term, a country with ill adults since drugs affect different areas of the body, especially the brain. A country with sick people is a nation weak, unable to safeguard the interests of a nation.
In the community setting, insecurity, poverty, lack of education, lack of life projects, illnesses caused by drug use impair the communities that are the sustenance of the individual.
At the family level, drugs not only affect the health of the individual who uses them, but also, peace, harmony, the quality of life of their family and environment. Divorces and early deaths and financial ruin to the family occur in households in which one or more members use drugs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geraldine González Williman is the first Paraguayan professional accredited and certified by the international society of professionals in the disorders for use of substances (ISSUP, International Society of Substance Use Professionals). Member of NAADAC, the Association of professionals in addictions, USA Woodcock by program Hubert Humphrey Felloswship, has several majors and master's degrees in that country.
It is general coordinator of the Center "Life projects", offering prevention and support in the treatment of the disorders by the use of addictive substances. National Coordinator of CADCA (American anti-drug communities coalitions). Conductive fraternally free program by the 920 AM Radio Nacional the Paraguay. Action research teacher at USIL, Paraguay.