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"Škoda Vagonka" sūta papildspēkus uz Latviju

Pieaug jauniešu atkarība no amfetamīna un medikamentiem

Youth substance addictions a pressing issue in Latvia

Young people are increasingly turning to help at teenage resource centers to combat a variety of addictions. Recent increases are observed in the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, including amphetamine, Zemgale regional television reported on January 3.

Teenage Resource Center in Tukums is working with several dozen young people daily. Each has a different problem, but mostly these difficulties have been forming for a long time, until the teenager has started solving them with the intoxication of various substances to escape.

Tukums center head, clinical and health psychologist Diāna Gema noted: “These addictions usually arise because teenagers try to somehow regulate their emotions -- either they don't cope in school with some sort of academic performance or they don't cope at home with family conflicts.”

Gema said the most work currently comes with young people taking amphetamine. Teenagers initially use pocket money to buy these substances, later bring things from home and sell them, and often they also start stealing.

The fact that these substances are extremely readily available is known both at the Tukums Youth Resource Centre and also by Edijs Klaišis, head of the Open Creative Center network, which helps young people forgotten by the rest.

“Medications are a very, very serious problem at the moment. All the Xanax and all that are mixed with alcohol. This drug circulation is actually huge. One is prescribed [the medication], they sell it on,” Klaišis said, adding that just recently, he had met a young man who had used a lot of different substances which had changed his psyche and speech so much he had been rendered incoherent.

Police also said intoxicated youths were part of officers' daily routine. The reasons are different, but most importantly the indifference of those around them, and also the fact that young people have little opportunity to prove themselves differently.

Vita Vīlistere, chief of the Multidisciplinary Prevention Unit of the State Police, said: "Young people have limited opportunities for leisure or fulfillment. It's not like young people are being restricted, but they don't even have that opportunity to show themselves or prove themselves somewhere."

Both the Teenage Resource Center and police admitted that different punishments will not help, young people need to be talked to.

Klaišis said: "Yhe information is one click away at the moment. They open up and read what they are interested in. They need to be talked to and talked to not from some higher position but as an equal person."

Last year, a total of nearly 4,500 administrative infringement processes for minors aged 14 to 17 were launched in the country in the first six months, up from 1,500 in 2022. The most commonly recorded violations have been specifically for the use of intoxicating substances.

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