A new hotline for drug addicts and families of addicts has seen high demand since it launched three months ago as part of the government's anti-drug action plan. Some 23,000 people placed calls to 191 and mothers concerned about their son or daughter's suspected drug use constituted the majority of callers.
Officials said more than half of the calls were for advice and the rest was callers seeking help to quit addiction.
Mothers suspecting their children of taking drugs asked hotline operators about the symptoms of drug use and how to approach drug addicts as well as about types of drugs.
The government announced the Rapid Action Plan Against Drugs last year, inaugurating a more effective ban on drugs and launched a nationwide awareness campaign about drug use. Drug abuse is relatively low compared to EU countries, with the rate of people between the ages of 15 and 24 experimenting with drugs at 2.7 percent. Still, drugs, whose peddlers have been compared to terrorists by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, threaten to remain prevalent in the country, especially with the recent emergence of bonzai, the street name for a synthetic and cheaply produced drug popular among youth.
The hotline aims to discourage users in the early stages of drug use by offering professional help. Authorities cite that some drug users, fearing the judicial process, often avoid treatment and consultation openly and the hotline gives them the comfort of anonymity to access rehabilitation options and how to kick the habit.
For victims of drug abuse, the government plans to move rehabilitation centers treating alcoholics and drug users to city hospitals. Alcohol and Substance Abuse Therapy and Educational Centers (AMATEM) will be in "maximum security" facilities to prevent patients from skipping treatment.
Last year more than 272,000 addicts sought treatment at AMATEMs, far higher than in previous years.
With drug abuse getting more media coverage, awareness of drug habits are higher in families, experts say. The government readied a plan for an early warning system in schools to detect troubled youth either using drugs or prone to and cooperate with parent-teacher associations.
In terms of the legal struggle against narcotics, the government plans to introduce a blanket ban on drugs instead of separate bans implemented at different times against each type of drug. All substances with narcotic qualities will levy fines and sentences.
An awareness campaign will cover schools where administrators and parents join forces to be more vigilant against drug dealers in the vicinity of schools while counter-narcotics teams from the Turkish National Police patrol those areas in order to prevent drug sales to students.
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