Over
the decades, educating people about health has been an important strategy for preventing
illness and injury. Ensuring that children are healthy and able to learn is an
essential part of an effective education system. As many studies show,
education and health are inseparable. Gradually, educational approaches have
turned more to skill development and address all aspects of health, including
physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being. Educating children and
adolescents can instill positive health behaviours in the early years and prevent
risk and premature death where adolescence has become the victim of various
health risk behaviour like drugs abuse, alcohol abuse suicide etc. Drug and substance abuse is a serious
problem adversely affecting the social fabric of the country. Addiction to
drugs not only affects the individual’s health but also disrupts their families
and the whole society. Regular consumption of various psychoactive substances
leads to drug dependence of the individual. Some drug compounds may lead to
neuropsychiatric disorders and other diseases such as cardiovascular diseases,
as well as accidents, suicides and violence. The highly
competitive world of today and the absence of traditional norms and support
have heightened the stress among adolescents resulting in multiple mental
health issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, diffidence,
anger, confliction in interpersonal relationship and failure (Smith et al.
2004), falling to the prey of Drug abuse,  alcohol abuse and
criminal behaviour among the adolescents. Life skills based health education is
very significant in preventing these kinds of health risk behaviour. Various
agencies like UNICEF, WHO, the World
Bank and UNFPA have worked together to encourage more schools and
communities across the globe to use skills-based health education, including
life skills, as the method for improving health and education. Together, these
agencies are dedicated to fostering effective school health programmes that
implement skills-based health education along with school health policies, a healthy
and supportive environment, and health services together in all schools.

Over the past twenty years, “life
skills” have become part of the vocabulary in health education and the
prevention of health risk behaviour among adolescence. Life skills education
emerged from a growing concern about certain health problems with particular
impact on young people, including HIV/AIDS, sexual behavior, drugs, alcohol,
peer influence, and youth suicide. However life skills education has been
taught with various underlying reasons such as, in Zimbabwe and Thailand the
impetus for initiating life skills education was the prevention of HIV/AIDS. In
Mexico, it was the prevention of adolescent pregnancy. In the United Kingdom,
an important life skills initiative was set up to contribute to child abuse
prevention, and in the USA there are numerous life skills programmes for the
prevention of substance abuse and violence. In South Africa and Colombia an
important stimulus for life skills education has been the desire to create a
curriculum for education for life, called “Life Orientation” education in South
Africa and “Integral Education” in Colombia. In short life skills education can
be used in different aspects and in different situation whenever and wherever
required.

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Conceptual Background:

Life skills:

Life skills have been defined as “the
abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal
effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life” (WHO, 1993). ‘Adaptive’ means that a person is
flexible in approach and is able to adjust in different circumstances. ‘Positive behavior’ implies that a
person is forward looking and even in difficult situations, can find a ray of
hope and opportunities to find solutions.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Life-Skills education refers to “a behaviour change or behaviour development
approach designed to address balance of three areas: knowledge, attitude and
skills”. The UNICEF definition is based
on research evidence that suggests that shifts in risk behaviour are unlikely
if knowledge, attitudinal and skill based competencies are not addressed.

Life skills are abilities for adaptive
and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the
demands and challenges of everyday life. In particular, life skills are a group
of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make
informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively,
communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others,
and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner. There are many such
skills, but core life skills lay down by WHO include:

1.
Self-awareness                                2.
Empathy

3.
Critical thinking                              4.
Creative thinking

5.
Decision making                             6.
Problem Solving

7.
Effective communication                8.
Interpersonal relationship

9.
Coping with stress                          10.
Coping with emotion

 

Life-Skills Based Education (LSBE) has a long history of
supporting child development and health promotion. In 1986, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion
recognized Life-Skills in terms of making better health choices. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) linked Life Skills to education by stating that
education should be directed towards the development of the child’s fullest potential. The 1990 Jomtien Declaration on ‘Education for All’ took this vision further and
included Life-Skills among essential learning tools for survival, capacity
development and quality of life. In
a meeting held in Senegal, Darkar 2000, the Darker Framework of Action (2000)
referred life skills in goal 3 ensuring that the learning needs of all young
services; policies and codes of conduct that enhance physical, psychosocial,
and emotional health of teachers and learners; and education content and
practices that lead to the knowledge, attitudes, values and life skills. Students
need to develop and maintain self-esteem, good health, and personal safety. The
supporting agencies, UNICEF, WHO, the
World Bank and UNFPA, and their partners Focusing Resources on Effective
School Health (FRESH) agreed that skills-based health education is an essential
component of a cost-effective school health programme. 

Life-Skills Based Education is now recognized as a
methodology to address a variety of  issues of child and youth development
and thematic responses including as expressed in UNGASS on HIV/AIDS (2001),
UNGASS on Children (2002), World Youth Report (2003), World Program of Human
Rights Education (2004), UN Decade on Education for Sustainable Development
(2005), UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence Against Children (2006), 51
Commission on the Status of Women (2007), and the World Development Report
(2007).

 

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction,
also called substance use disorder, is a dependence on a legal or illegal drug
or medication, keeping in mind that alcohol and nicotine are legal substances,
but are also considered drugs.  An
Authoritative definition of Drug Addiction is propounded by the World Health
Organization: “Drug Addiction is a state of periodic and chronic intoxication
detrimental to the individual and to a society, produced by the repeated
consumption of a Drug (natural of Synthetic). Its characteristics include:

1)      An
overpowering desire or need (compulsion) to continue taking the drug and to
obtain it by any means.

2)      A
tendency to increase the Dose.

3)      A
psychic (psychological) and sometimes a physical dependence on the affect of
the drug.

Present status of drug
addiction in Adolescence

Adolescence is the most critical phase of an
individual. It denotes the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood
marked by conspicuous physical, cognitive, emotional and social changes. The
inbuilt buffers existing in the society in the form of control and support from
the near and dear ones guide the adolescents to grow into a mature adult.
However, in the recent years, big changes have taken
place in our traditional society owing to industrialisation and globalisation.
The highly competitive world of today and the absence of traditional norms and
support have heightened the stress among adolescents resulting in multiple
mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, rejection,
diffidence, anger, confliction in interpersonal relationship and failure (Smith
et al. 2004). Alcohol abuse and criminal behaviour among the adolescents too
are not uncommon.  Drug abuse at any age can cause serious
health effects, but teens who abuse drugs are at particular risk for negative
consequences. Teens who abuse drugs are more likely to struggle with addiction
later in life and have permanent and irreversible brain damage. Some other
common negative effects of teen drug abuse are Behavioral problem, Emotional
problem, Addiction and dependence, risky sex, Learning problem, Diseases, Brain
Damage and accidents.

Globally, it is estimated that in 2012,
between 162 million and 324 million people, corresponding to between 3.5 per
cent and 7.0 per cent of the world population aged 15-64, had used an illicit
drug — mainly a substance belonging to the cannabis, opioid, cocaine or
amphetamine-type stimulants group — at least once in the previous year. The
extent of problem drug use – by regular drug users and those with drug use
disorders or dependence – remains stable at between 16 million and 39 million
people. According to official data from the ministry
of social justice and empowerment 2014, India has an estimated 3.4 million drug
abuse victims. This number excludes alcoholics, who figure at around 11 million
in the country.

Drug use continues to exact a significant toll, with
valuable human lives and productive years of many persons being lost. An
estimated 183,000 (range: 95,000-226,000) drug-related deaths were reported in
2012. That figure corresponds to a mortality rate of 40.0 (range: 20.8-49.3)
deaths per million among the population aged 15-64. In India, statistics reveal
that at least 25,426 people committed suicide due to drug and addiction related
problems in the last 10 years across India. This comes down to an average 2,542
suicides every year, 211 per month and 7 per day.

 The effects
of drug abuse are wide ranging and affect people of all ages. Besides
addiction, drug abuse is linked to a variety of health problems, including
HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and many more. It is also linked to
homelessness, crime, and violence. Thus, addiction is costly to both
individuals and society. In addition to the well known risks associated with
injection drug use (i.e., transmission through needle and other equipment
sharing), are the risks stemming from drug or alcohol intoxication, which can
alter a person’s judgment, and increase the probability of high-risk behaviors,
such as unprotected sex. Substance abuse and
addiction have grave consequences on our existing social systems, effecting
crime rates, hospitalizations, child abuse, and child neglect, and are rapidly
consuming limited public funds. The intravenous drug abuser represents the
fastest growing vector of HIV virus. According to WHO (2014), Adolescence has
been more active and are involved in drugs addiction which is a serious problem
and also a serious threat. Educating adolescence is not only the mere solution
for this kind of problems but their life skills should also be developed so
that these skills help not only in understanding the issues and challenges but
also taking healthy and responsible decisions in regards to drug addiction.

Life Skills approach not only develops
various skills in a child which is required in their day to day life but it
also helps in addressing various kinds of health issues and plays a major role
in preventing of some key causes of child and adolescent death, disease and
disability. It also helps in socialization as well as preparing the child for
changing social circumstance. The life skills approach is an interactive, educational
methodology that not only focuses on transmitting knowledge but also aims at
shaping attitudes and developing interpersonal skills. The main goal of the
life skills approach is to enhance young people’s ability to take
responsibility for making healthier choices, resisting negative pressures, and
avoiding risk behaviors.

Studies in relation to life skills with
drugs, alcohol, smoking and substances abuse, revealed that increased knowledge about life skills paralleled an
increase in students’ distant attitudes toward drugs use. There is
effectiveness of life Skills Education Programme to enhance health behaviour
among school students. The findings of the study substantiates that Life Skills
Education Programme (LSEP) was effective among adolescents for fostering their
health Behaviour and is an effective approach for prevention  Drugs, Alcohol, smoking and Substance abuse
(Botvin, Griffin et al.(2003), Hanewinkel and Abhauer (2004), Buhler, Schroder and Silbereisen (2008), Talpade et al. (2008), Pasch. et al. (2009). Michael. et al.
(2010), Will and Sabo (2010), A, Mar?a, Tomas and Mar?a (2013). Favorable prevention outcomes may be
influenced through building knowledge about general life skills.

Imparting Life skills
education

In promoting and imparting life skills education , the
various agencies which includes WHO, UNESCO etc has designed a numbers of
modules which is based on the teaching of generic life skills and includes the
practice of skills in relation to major health and social problems. The methods
used in the teaching of life skills builds upon what is known of how young
people learn from their own experiences and from the people around them, from
observing how others behave and what consequences arise from behaviour. This is
describe in the Social Learning Theory developed by Bandura (1977), which
states that learning is considered to be an active acquisition, processing and
structuring of experiences.

The
psychological push factors such as the inability to tackle emotional pain, conflicts,
frustrations and anxieties about the future are often the driving force for
high risk behaviour such as alcoholism, drugs abuse etc. Life skills training
is an efficacious tool for empowering the youth to act responsibly, take
initiative and take control. Life skills have been tied to specific health
choices, such as choosing not to use drugs, eating a healthy diet, or making
safer and informed choices about relationships. Different life skills are
emphasised depending on the purpose and topic. For example, critical thinking
and decision-making skills are important for analysing and resisting peer and
media influences to use drugs; interpersonal communication skills are needed to
negotiate alternatives to risky sexual behaviour. Young people can also acquire
skills which help them to cope with stress and emotion with which they are not
easily influence by drugs, leading them to addiction that affect their health. Teaching methods are youth-centered, gender-sensitive,
interactive, and participatory. The most common teaching methods include
working in groups, brainstorming, role-playing, storytelling, debating, and
participating in discussions and audiovisual activities. There is
evidence that life skills education can have an impact (Botvin, Baker, Dusenbury,
Botvin, & Diaz, 1995; Botvin, Griffin, Diaz, & Ifill-Williams, 2001;
International Center for Alcohol Policies, 2000; Smith et al., 2004; Swisher,
Smith, & Vicary, 2004). Some general patterns, nevertheless, have emerged
from the evaluations that have been undertaken in this field. Certain “factors
of success” have been identified (World Health Organization, 1999, 2003). These
include the need for:

1)       long-term programs;

2)       trained educators or providers;

3)      focus
on both generic and specific skills;

4)      developmentally
appropriate inputs;

5)      active
student involvement;

6)       links to other subjects;

7)      user-friendly
materials;

8)      peer
leadership components.

Where these factors have been implemented, life
skills programs contributed to a decrease in alcohol misuse, drug abuse,
smoking, delinquency, violence, and suicide and to an improvement in pro-social
behavior (e.g., Botvin & Kantor, 2001; “LifeSkills Training,” n.d.; Perry,
1987). Other findings suggest a positive impact on mental health in relation to
self-image, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and social and emotional adjustment and
a decrease in social anxiety. School performance has been shown to improve with
regard to behavior, academic achievement, and absenteeism (e.g., International
Center for Alcohol Policies, 2000). In general life skills development, there
have been reported signs of improvement in problem solving, communication, and
coping skills (Botvin & Kantor, 2001; Perry, 1987). It is these indicators
and trends—often qualitative and anecdotal in nature—that indicate the
potential of this approach and its particular contribution to the issue of
alcohol use.

The
basic model proposed by WHO which shows the place of life skills as a link
between motivating factors of Knowledge, attitudes and Values, and positive
health behaviour, taking responsible decision in preventing drugs abuse and in
this way contributing to the primary prevention of health problems

Knowledge Attitude     Values

Positive
Health Behaviour

Prevention
of Health Problems

Behaviour
Reinforce-ent  or Change

Life skills Education

                                                                                                    

                             +                            +

 

 

Life Skills-based health education is
placed in a variety of ways in the school curriculum. Sometimes it is a core
subject within the broader curriculum. Sometimes it is placed in the context of
related health and social issues, within a carrier subject such as science. Or
it may be offered as an extracurricular programme. Regardless of its placement,
teachers and school personnel from a wide range of subjects and activities need
to be involved in life skills-based health education in order to reinforce
learning behaviour of adolescence in order to make healthy choices and
preventing drugs.

Conclusion

Life skills education is based on the
assumption that when young people are able to rise above emotional impasses
arising from daily conflicts, entangled relationships and peer pressure, they
are less likely to resort to anti social or high risk behaviours, therefore
making healthy and responsible choices in respect of drugs abuse. Life skill
education is a basic learning need for all young people. It will help the young
people to empower in challenging situations and helps the adolescents to
translate knowledge, attitude and their health behavior such as acquiring the
ability to reduce specific risk behavior and adopt healthy behavior that
improve their lives in general. Due to heightened stress, pressure, adolescence
is prone to health risk behaviour such as drugs addiction in order to avoid
this kind of situation. Life skills education can be a solution to the
different problems faced by the adolescence and help them to face it. Life
skills education can help and adolescence in minimizing violent behavior;
increasing the ability to plan ahead and choose effective solutions to
problems; improving self-image, self-awareness, social and emotional
adjustment; increasing acquisition of knowledge; gaining self control and
sociability, conflict resolution with peers, impulse control and popularity and
above all preventing the use of drugs leading to health risk behaviour.