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Opinions of Thursday, 7 September 2017

Columnist: Elvis Effah

The alarming rate of drug abuse among the youth of Ghana

Research has indicated the alarming rate at which the youth are engulfed in the use of drugs Research has indicated the alarming rate at which the youth are engulfed in the use of drugs

“I returned and saw under the sun that most Ghanaian youth are enveloped in the intoxicating and captivating shackles of alcoholism; trapped in the seemingly inevitable cobwebs of marijuana and tobacco. Common on our streets are the self-made dark lips which are dipped in the plumes of smoke billowing from the chimney of our own deadly passions. Red lips, as a result of our insatiable craving for the corrosive liquid substance. Ending up in various hallucinations”.

Take a gentle stroll along the boulevards of the various towns, villages and cities in the country and you will surely be amazed, bemused and totally astounded as to what you will see. Almost every young girl or boy is mad over one thing or the other. Girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 19 years are always seen either with a bottle of alcohol or a roll of marijuana (wee). Gone are the days when people used to do such things secretly. These alcoholic frenzy and sexually heated youth of the town who are driven by various passions and youthful negligence now do it at everywhere and anytime. It is now done on the streets in the full glare of people.

Passing around any field at night is even worse because one may not be able to stand the smell of tobacco and wee emanating from such places. This canker plaguing the youth has spread like bush fire in the harmattan and has swallowed many a youth in various towns and villages. Most people have “boiled” their hearts through the addictive act of smoking and alcoholism; as a result, they are left alone to suffocate to death in their emaciated bodies under the intense pressure of these strong drugs.

With mounting despair, writers of various disposition have extensively voiced their feelings on this mind-boggling issue. One’s heart will definitely jump out of his mouth to discover that about 70% of the youth in Ghana engage in drug abuse. I won’t be surprised if you momentarily lost consciousness only to recover at the emergency ward of 37 Military Hospital after knowing this heart-breaking revelation.

A research conducted by the Mission of Hope Society, a health centred non-governmental organization in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana indicates the alarming rate at which the youth are engulfed in the use of marijuana (wee) and excessive intake of alcohol.

No doubt, marijuana and alcohol, just like any other drug, have positive effects which should never be undermined. Scientific research has shown that there are at least two active chemicals in marijuana that many researchers think have medicinal value. These two active chemicals include cannabidiol (CBD) which seems to impact the brain and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has pain relieving and other properties.

But it is worthy to note that these healthy benefits that are derived from “wee” can be gained by taking THC pills like Dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC which in some way might be positively effective than a person smoking marijuana.

Mr Akrasi Sarpong once stated that, “anyone who smokes marijuana is not a sinner more than the liar”. Truth be told, I can’t agree less. Just that the aftermath of smoking can be immediate and very dreadful. Most youth may be involved in this canker in order to prove their masculinity. Others may indulge in this unwholesome act as a result of curiosity and peer influence.

The late Dr Myles Munroe once made a profound statement. He opined that “where purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable”. Most youth are completely naïve about the appropriate use of these strong drugs.

It is inarguable that drug abuse has its attendant problems. First among them is that drug abuse is usually hazardous to the lives of those who become addicted to this practice. Apparently, users of such hard drugs like marijuana, cocaine, tobacco and alcohol usually have itsy-bitsy hands and legs. These habitual drug users, though they may eat a lot, usually don’t grow fat. It is evident since most of them are considered as “living-dead” who are always digging their own graves every blessed minute.

Not only does this serious canker poses a threat to the health of the youth but also hampers productivity. Drug addicts who are broken down psychologically gradually become lazy, drowsy and utterly unproductive. Do we then need a seer to soothsay that it will gradually lead to their pre-mature death?

Some barbaric acts of violence by the youth can partly be attributed to the excessive smoking of marijuana and much intake of alcohol. The inappropriate use of such drugs make its users reckless, fearless, aggressive and ever ready to commit all acts of atrocities. Taking a journey to the psychiatric centres in the country, one will realize that about half of those who are mentally ill are between the ages of 18 and 30 years. Where then lies our future if the youth who make up this glittering future are all going mad?

I do not wish to be a prophet of doom but the future is scary and blurry if this act continuous unabated. Pragmatic measures should therefore be taken to curb or control this menace.

Moving on, there should be a nation-wide educational campaign, poised at sensitizing and educating the citizens; especially the youth about the dreadful dangers of the excessive use of drugs like marijuana, tobacco and alcohol. A holistic approach should be adopted by involving health centred non- governmental organizations.

Since charity begins at home, the family as an institution also has a crucial role to play. The family should know that a child who is over pampered and can’t be punished will soon be in pampers.

Those who were once drug addicts should not be left off the hook in waging a successful war against drug abuse. They can best tell the story from their own perspective and experience.

Through these nation-wide educative campaigns, the youth will be re-oriented and disabuse their minds of some myths surrounding these hard drugs. Only then will they realize that these long-held myths are nothing more than mere hoax.

In view of this, well equipped psychiatric centres should be established in all villages, towns and cities but most importantly in areas noted for the excessive abuse of drugs.

The government should also make an initiative for the nation to adopt rules and regulations to regulate alcohol advertisement. This will definitely reduce the rising incidence of alcoholism among the youth.

Lest I forget, smoking and alcoholism can cost you your job, your health, your family and gradually lead to your death.

Let’s all be involved in waging a successful war against this doleful menace. A stitch in time, saves nine.