Drug Abuse and Addiction Among Young People in Africa

Sometimes if you see a Rasta man or a Rastafarian, what’s your impression? You will likely think they are abusers of drugs like (marijuana) cannabis, and that may be wrong. Perception determines your impression and sometimes determines your action and reaction in life.

For instance, when you see young people grow up with a notion that smoking cannabis gives inspiration, what do you make of that? When most Rastafarians claim that cannabis makes them high with inspiration? What do you expect? When you watch movies and almost all the leading actors’ smokes as heroes, what do you make of that too? When rearing children in Africa is challenging to the extent that children grows up under the tutelage of domestic servants/adolescent house help, ask who will mold moral values?

So many youths are smoking, using substances and abusing drugs that I can not explain. Indian hemp is what they smoke most because it is the cheapest to purchase. They call it marijuana and cannabis. they call it weed and ganja. They plant it in plantations and transport it everywhere. This is killing. Codine is killing too. If this continues, I see our youths with significant mental and health problem looming, and that will affect the quality of leadership we produce in future. Could it be that Ganja leaders would take over Nigeria and Africa? I'll leave that to you.

What’s up Africa? Africa now occupies 2nd position in trafficking and consumption of illegal drugs. And according to UN statistics in 2013, 37 million people in Africa die annually from disease associated with cannabis. UN estimates that there are 28 million drug users in Africa and the number is growing rapidly. Last time I did visit a psychiatric hospital, I saw new cases of youths in psycho conditions as result from the use of cannabis. They are there, I mean male and female who consumes one to two bottles of cough syrups as stimulant because of codeine content. They are taking tramadol tablets and that gets them so dull, helpless and useless. You will see some of them sniffing gums, suck-away, dirt gutter water, lizard dung all in attempt to get “high” and intoxicated.

I have on my own pondered on what will drag so many young people into addictive illegal drugs use. And I realized that children from poor and unstable background are more prone. They see drugs as escape route from life’s trouble. In another, parents are not helping matters too. When parent abuses drugs in front of their children, what do we expect?

Young people from rich homes do smoke cannabis too. But they are more interested in opium, cocaine and heroine. These are hard drugs that have rendered lives useless by the use of money missing its road. Transit is consumption African countries’ and its border is not discussion for toady. West Africa is completely weak in border control and its borders are just so porous and permits anything through. And because illicit drugs is a big time business, big cartel from Colombia and Latin America have chosen Africa as a way to reach Europe with drugs. West Africa countries like Guinea Bissau, Liberia and others are becoming target because of weakness of security including lack of money and resources to fight illegal drugs business. Big cartels takes advantage of that and uses the countries as transit point and from there goes the remnant. But you know a country that has allowed its country to be used as transit should also expect that his/her country to become consumers of such goods in transit. Cannabis is mostly planted in Latin America but consumed in Africa most. That's what I don’t know the rational behind it. .Image result for cannabis

The way forward, any hope? Indian hemp is a tall, coarse Asian plant, widely cultivated for it fiber in making robe by the Indians. The tree got its name because it was cultivated mostly by Indians. The hemp was used as medicine for pains or inflammation in joint, mixed in creams for hair growth.In most African countries, it is banned for smoking.

There are agencies mandated for arrest, investigation and prosecution. And these agencies are busy doing their statutorily functions. But how effective are these drugs agencies over the years? You can judge it out by determining if cannabis consumption is decreasing or increasing? And be the judge. I have seen for instance in many occasions how police raided where cannabis are sold. Such raids are mostly targeted on youth’s smokers, leaving behind the seller whom had earlier settled the police. At such raid, it is exploitation galore and for money making through police bail of those youths arrested for smoking cannabis.

I have also seen how the police have turned back to patronize where they raided before, to buy and smoke the same cannabis at the same spot they arrested those that smoked it before. Haven’t you seen in army barrack how military people with civilian youths smoke freely and openly within the maimi markets? with excuses that it helps soldiers to be gallant?

If you go to our tertiary institutions, you will find out how trendy cannabis is? You will wonder why?

You know that in Africa, drugs education is empty. Children are allowed to grow and experiment drugs, then make decision on their own to stay or leave it. This is chillingly wrong. It is not reasonable that drugs agencies are mandated to jail culprit when such agencies can not re-channeled people away from it. My view is that people should be educated about the danger of consuming drugs than clamp down. Institutions including NGOs hould be involved in pushing and passing the message for sensitization. Above all, I recommend education ministries in Africa should draft in curriculum to incorporate lessons on drug education. That way, we will be able to correct the wrong together. Africa must be proactive than reactive in the fight against drugs as is currently doing. There is hope!

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