YOUNG people in the Balearics begin consuming tobacco and alcohol at the age of 13 and the smoking of cannabis at the age of 14.
This stark reality was brought to light yesterday at the inauguration of a “Training programme for professionals working to prevent drug taking for pleasure”, an occasion that draws to a close tomorrow. “Many under-age drug users believe that the practice constitutes no risk and are unaware of the dangers”, declared Youth director, Juan Manuel Gómez Gordiola, who added that more than 72% of the Balearic population has taken drugs at some stage in their lives. The director affirmed that the greatest measure of drug consumption was registered during free time and at weekends, when young people wanted to experiment with “new sensations”. Alcohol with cannabis, apparently provides the most attractive “kick”. The course, organised by a government youth department and a Professionals' Association, is directed at those who are working with adolescents as part of their training or in their free time. The aim is to acquaint specialised staff with practical strategy to support the fight against drug consumption. Gómez Gordiola stated that “institutions have to reflect on this sobering state of affairs, especially as we live in a society where plenty of opportunity is available to young people to fall prey to drug consumption”. The president of the Professionals' Association (IREFREA), Amador Calafat, said that there is a responsibility on the part of informed adults to make young people aware of the traps into which they can fall. One of the ways to address the problem is to “manage” how leisure time is spent and help youngsters become individuals in their own right, without the need to bend to peer pressure.

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