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Youth And Drugs

17 June 2008 | Medical Blog

Illicit drugs have become so common . Some drug pushers have already arrived in some junior schools.

It is therefore imperative that all young people are given the true facts — as a matter of urgency—so they get to know the consequences.

Drugs in schools:

Every child, however young, will have to take the decision immediately, whether to refuse drugs or take them when he comes into contact with them. By taking it on only one occasion, the young person gambles with his future.
He risks his future personality, health and career. He may even end up as a drug addict and get involved with criminals.

Depending on the drug and quantity taken, some people have actually lost their lives the first time of taking a drug. The younger the person, the greater the risk of him becoming a victim.

This decision is often taken under high peer pressure by immature people. When curiosity, ignorance of the consequences of taking drugs and peer pressure occur together in an immature person, the net result is an innocent but disastrous experimentation.

The common drugs in Ghana

(1) Cigarettes:- They are advertised to look glamorous. Stylish and sexy. You are not told of the serious harmful effects on all parts of the body. They also cause cancers, strokes, heart attacks and lung problems.

( 2) Alcohol:- Excessive intake of alcohol injures vital organs in the body. Alcoholism goes hand in hand with poverty as the victims are unable to keep jobs. With disrupted family life, poor diet and absence of care, premature deaths may occur.

(3) Marijuana (Wee) Addictive. Locally grown so cheap and easily available.

(4) Cocaine:- Powerfully addictive. They are smoked, sniffed or given by injections.

(5) Heroin:- Same as Cocaine

Drugs and “nature of addiction”

In a very generalised way, almost all the drugs, when first tried in small quantities give this fantastic experience of supernatural joy, euphoria and intense mystical delighted feeling.
Some people want to stay in this state all the time so they go for the drug again and again. Soon the same amount of the drug becomes ineffective so more of the drug is taken.

With time, addiction “sneaks” in on the person and the victim takes more drugs at shorter intervals.
He has become a slave to the drug. He will cheat, steal and even kill to feed the craving for the drug. The Ga people of Accra aptly call it “Abonsam tawa” meaning the devil's tobacco. It is said that once you give the drug a chance, it will choose you to become an addict.

Efforts at withdrawal: With the degree of suffering that the addicts go through, most of them try to stop but the psychological and physical pains and craving are almost unbearable.

Effects of larger amounts of drugs.

The addict does not care about his appearance. He is unkempt – body not washed, dirty and smelly; hair often uncombed and dirty, clothes ragged and dirty.

School performance deteriorates. He becomes secretive, withdrawn, anti-social and he may change his regular friends.
He can become aggressive and violent. He eats a poor diet so health also suffers. The malnutrition and drugs can affect the brain, liver, kidney, heart and lungs. Eventually body and mind are on the path to destruction.

Illicit drugs compared with hospital medications The doctor prescribes a specific medication which is expected to treat the cause of an illness. The nature of the disease is known.
The quantities given are appropriate for the size of the patient. To prevent infections, sterile needles, syringes and medications are used. Dangerous drugs are kept under lock and key.

In the case of illicit drugs, who decides how much to give? Is the preparation hygienic? The drug peddler gives as much drugs as the addict is prepared to pay money for and quite often this is also adulterated. Hygiene is non-existent.
We remember too well the “human mules” who carry drugs in all sorts of orifices. Remember drug peddlers are criminals! For the addicts who inject themselves, they share needles in spite of all the warnings so they end up with HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis, and other serious infections.

The family of the addict: The joy of the family is seriously challenged. There is no peace. How can anybody live with a person who is abusive, demanding, stealing and violent?

The country: When it is ruled by drug -barons, the country is a disaster. We shall call such a country “COCAINEKROM”: It is a very unhappy country to live in. The economy is in shambles. There is instability; violence is everywhere. There are street shoot-outs and armed robbers everywhere.

Anybody is at risk of being lynched on the street, whether he has committed a crime or whether he has been framed up.There are drug addicts everywhere. In Cocainekrom, the barons try to bribe all or most of the key people of the country eg the President, the Chief Justice, the IGP, The Head of Border-Guards, The parliamentarians etc.
If they succeed then Cocainekrom is finished. We do not want Cocainekrom.

The drug barons.

They are promoters of disaster. THEY ARE BIG TIME CRIMINALS. They are very rich as the profit margin in illicit drug-trading is very big. The insensitive drug barons are only interested in making money.
They do not care about the destruction they bring on human beings, families, institutions and the whole country.

With the drug money, they can indulge in all the evils that money can bring about. In a poor country like Ghana, some people will accept money to do the dirty work for the barons.
These people act as pushers, carriers, and even human mules who swallow the drugs in plastic bags at considerable risks to themselves.

Who are the victims who unknowingly enrich the barons at such cost to themselves?

(1) A little boy who has heard of this wonder drug. He is curious but ignorant of the consequences.
(2) The little new student who is called “Mama B” or “Dada B” – meaning a weakling, who has been over-protected by Mama or Dada. This student is going to show “ them” that he is no weakling.

(3) A little pressure at a party where everybody is doing it.

(4) Boredom and truancy

(5) Children rebelling against parents and authorities.

There are many more situations in life, which drive people to despair, but it is good to know that the end result should make everybody advise himself, no matter what the provocation is.

The children who will be useful citizens and leaders of tomorrow, have to be drug-free today. They have to be people of intergrity.
Apart from their school work, they need to occupy themselves with group activities like games, sports, choirs, Scout Movement, Girl Guides Movement, decent youth groups, etc.

What the reformed drug addicts at Remar are saying from hard experience is “The best way to prevent drug addiction is not to touch it at all, not even for curiosity.
 It is so very easy to start but so very difficult to stop. Being a drug addict is a very miserable life for the addict himself and the people around.”

When people have problems, they should try and discuss with mature family members or the clergy (most of them are trained counsellors).
It is known that God-fearing people fall into drugs less often. It is also interesting that at Remar, the addicts depend on the Bible, prayers, etc to get out of drugs.

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