KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 – About 106,000 adolescents in Malaysia experimented with drugs at some point in their lives, with 60,000 currently on narcotics, according to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2022.
The NHMS: Adolescent Health Survey 2022 study by the Institute for Public Health (IKU) at the Ministry of Health (MOH) last year further revealed that among Malaysian teenagers aged 13 to 17 who have ever used drugs, three in four (75 per cent) initiated drug use before the age of 14.
These findings underscore the critical need for early intervention strategies, education programmes, and support networks to prevent the potentially devastating consequences associated with drug addiction among adolescents.
The NHMS adolescent report highlighted various types of drugs, including illegal narcotics, that were ever used by survey respondents.
It was found that 2.8 per cent of respondents admitted to ever using inhalants such as glue and paint, 2.3 per cent reported ever using kratom or ketum, 1.1 per cent indicated marijuana use at least once, and 1 per cent disclosed ever using amphetamines or methamphetamines.
In addition to the types of drugs used, the study also explored the sources from which these substances were obtained.
The data revealed that 38.4 per cent of respondents purchased drugs from someone directly, 23.1 per cent gave someone else money to buy drugs on their behalf, 13.9 per cent obtained drugs from friends, and 9.7 percent reported using other methods to acquire drugs. Disturbingly, 14.9 percent admitted to resorting to theft as a means to acquire drugs.
The survey was conducted from June 12 to July 8, 2022, focusing on students aged 13 to 17 years. The sampling frame for the study consisted of secondary schools in Malaysia, allowing for a comprehensive examination of adolescent health behaviours and trends.
65% Of Adolescents Who Ever Tried Alcohol Had First Drink Before Age 14
Meanwhile, one in five adolescents surveyed reported having tried consuming alcohol at least once.
About 7 per cent of the surveyed individuals were identified as current drinkers, highlighting an ongoing issue with underage alcohol use.
Among those who have ever drunk alcohol, 65 per cent had their first alcoholic drink before the age of 14, while 25 per cent reported experiencing drunkenness.
More than half (55 per cent) of current teen alcohol drinkers obtained alcohol from their family, 19 per cent from the store, and 13 per cent from friends.
The majority (73 per cent) of those who currently drink have parents who drink and peers who drink (86 per cent).
The prevalence of alcohol consumption among teenagers has exhibited a mixed pattern over the years. It increased from 8.9 per cent in 2012 to 10.2 per cent in 2017, before declining to 7.4 per cent in 2022.
While the recent decrease is encouraging, the persistent rates of underage drinking necessitate sustained efforts to address this issue effectively.