National Drug Agency (NDA) states that children as young as 10 years are seeking treatment for drug addiction in Maldives.
NDA’s media official Ahmed Hilmy told Sun the youngest age of drug addicts identified by the agency is 10 years.
However, recent studies by Health Ministry shows there are drug addicts as young as eight years in Maldives.
“Four children are currently undergoing rehabilitation. Five children are awaiting rehabilitation. That is so their rehabilitation can start after meeting and discussing it with their family. So, there are total nine children with NDA for rehabilitation,” he said.
Health Ministry’ studies show that though drug abuse was most common among people between 22 years and 34 years back in 2014, the age category has expanded to 17-68 years over recent years, with more and more younger children falling victim to drug addiction.
Drug abuse is most predominant among children between 15 and 17 years of age, but cases have been identified with drug addicts as young as eight years.
Drug rehabilitation is available either voluntarily or through the Drug Court. Addicts undergo an assessment before their rehabilitation begins to identify the specific rehabilitation and extent of rehabilitation they require.
Child drug addicts identified as low-risk undergo a community reintegration program, while children identified as medium-risk undergo a 21-day program which includes 14 days of detoxification or a detoxification or outpatient service and community reintegration. Children identified as high-risk undergo residential treatment.
Children who are long-time addicts and cannot be kept away from drugs even during rehabilitation receive psychiatric support, are prescribed long-term medication, and undergo a program.
Hilmy said NDA is working to enroll many of the young homeless drug addicts in their programs.