Educating youth on safe drinking

A nationwide campaign called “Watch Your Drink,” is being implemented in Krakow. The initiative aims to promote responsible drinking and spread awareness on the dangers of drink dosing by others.

Targeting nightclub goers, the campaign has put up 300 informative posters for the attention of young people in a number of locations, such as universities, dormitories, and bars.

As part of the project commissioned by the National Office Counteracting Drug Addicts, in partnership with the MANKO Association, the poster presents the image of a blue drink in a glass secured by a leash. The slogan reads: “Pilnuj Drinka – Locz Jor Drink!” and warns the public about drugged drinks.

The most common drug used is GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, a colorless, tasteless, and odorless depressant which dissolves easily in beverages. GHB causes the victim to be easily persuaded and physically weak, or even entirely unconscious, leaving him or her vulnerable to rape, assault, or burglary. Generally, the effects of the drug take place around 15 minutes after consumption and last for approximately 3 hours.

According to the MANKO Association, GHB is being found more and more frequently in Polish nightclubs and bars. According to Magda Petryniak from the MANKO Association, this issue is concealed for two main reasons. First, explains Petryniak, the victim does not remember the situation. Second, upon realising what happened, the victim is too embarrassed to speak about the incident.

In addition, police often have problems with collecting evidence in such cases as the substance disappears from the system rather quickly, making it difficult to determine the occurrences.

In December 2007, the Polish Police stopped a group of drug traffickers and secured 8 kilograms worth of psychotropic substance – enough to produce 300 thousand GHB tablets, which would have found their way to nightclubs throughout Poland.

Though discrete drink testers are now made available in stores such as Kolporter, Zabka and Alma, the MANKO Association reminds the public that the best way to avoid becoming a victim of GHB is through behaving responsibly and taking caution when among strangers. Most importantly, education will increase the level of knowledge concerning the threat and methods of staying safe.

Along with the poster, the MANKO Association has organized a web site with more information and plans to promote the campaign further in the spring Juwenalia Students Festival through the distribution of flyers and advertisements at each of the large parties in the city.

The movement has been publicized with the help of student publications and other media. As a non-profit organization established in 1998, the MANKO Association puts together projects and campaigns, while also publishing its own monthly magazine.

Last year, The Krakow Post covered the MANKO campaign for Smoke-Free Premises that began in March 2007 to promote smoke-free restaurants, hotels, bars and cafes and provide a map of the supportive venues on its web site.

Some 150 locations from six of Poland’s largest cities have joined the campaign.

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