The importance of good parenting in stopping teenagers from turning to drugs is highlighted by the Department of Community Development (DCD).
The message comes in time for the international day against drug abuse and trafficking, which is marked on June 26 each year.
Dr Bushra Al Mulla, executive director of the Community Development Sector at the DCD in Abu Dhabi, urged parents to communicate with their adolescent children and to educate them about the dangers of drugs.
She said families had to help teenagers cope with strong feelings, emotions and stress, and to monitor their use of social media.
The DCD is partnering with police, customs, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention to mark the event this year in a campaign with the theme "Committed to our Homeland. Drugs are a Crime".
New figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that about 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the past year, and more than 36 million suffered from drug use related disorders.
The agency's annual World Drug Report found that in the last 24 years cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in some parts of the world, while the perception of it among adolescents as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent.
This change took place despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other problems, especially among long-term users.
"Lower perception of drug use risks has been linked to higher rates of drug use, and the findings of UNODC’s 2021 World Drug Report highlight the need to close the gap between perception and reality to educate young people and safeguard public health," said UNODC executive director Ghada Waly.
Doctors at the UAE's National Rehabilitation Centre said more people have been seeking treatment for their drug problems since the coronavirus pandemic started.
They said demand rose every day last year– the first time such an increase had been recorded.
The centre was established in 2002 and now offers a range of online services, which were in great demand during the lockdown.
The increase in web-based services was also noted in the UNODC report, as the authors said the pandemic had led to innovation and adaptation in drug prevention and treatment, including an increase in telemedicine counselling.
However, their recent analysis suggested that the pandemic has also brought a rise in inequality, poverty, and mental health problems – all factors that could push more people around the world into drug use.