Technology – the new drug in town

Anti-drug awareness campaigns and those against overuse of social media. This is the reality, which in the words of the Director of Sedqa, Charles Scerri, may be in place in the near future.

In recent years there’s been an alarming number of young people who use social media for more than four hours a day, behaviour which in his words could be heading toward addiction.

He said that since the last ESPAD study – which analyzes addictions in European countries, it appears that since the last study, drug and alcohol addiction has remained stable.

While in the past agencies like Sedqa used to deal mostly with addictions like drugs and drinking, this trend seems to be changing.

“Where before we talked, and still talk, about traditional uses such as cocaine, alcohol, cannabis, nowadays ESPAD has shown us the predominant use of social media, particularly among girls where it turns out that more than 70% use social media for more than four hours a day, while for boys aged between fifteen and sixteen, more than 46% use social media for more than four hours to play video games. ”

He said that while this is not necessarily wrong, it can still lead to addictive behavior. On drug use in our country, especially among young people, the numbers are encouraging since as at 2019 there were no increases registered since the last study in 2015. And while there has also been no increase in alcohol consumption, our country is still among the highest when it comes to alcohol consumption.

“As far as cannabis use is concerned, we have seen from the previous ESPAD cycle in 2015, use did not increase but decreased. We had a situation where alcohol consumption did not seem to increase but of course Malta still ranks quite high compared to other European countries. ”

Mr Scerri said that last year, in the year of the pandemic, more people were seen seeking the help of Sedqa, where recurrence had increased by more than twenty per cent. He said that studies carried out among these people showed that the supply of drugs in our country during the past year remained stable, where those who wanted drugs could still find it.

In his words, people resort to drugs due to various situations, including loneliness, but on a positive note he claimed that while there was an increase in drug use during the pandemic, the same people sought help.