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Liberia is steadily losing its youthful population to harmful substances, a call to national leaders

By Eshiaka J. Kromah
Opinion Liberia is steadily losing its youthful population to harmful substances, a call to national leaders
JAN 21, 2022 LISTEN

It is often said that the youths are the future leaders of a NATION and the NUCLEUS on which the nation is centered, but if the youth are not well moulded and refined to be able to lead in the future, what will be our fate as a nation? You ponder over that! A whopping number of our young people today are moving in an adverse and pervasive line of trivialities such as taking in DRUGS, COCAINE, MARIJUANA, and other detrimental substances. Sometimes, when I see some of our brothers and sisters who are DRUG-DEPENDENT/ DRUG AFICIONADO, my heart TREMBLE and tears set in my eyes and I ask myself, is the future of our nation bright as it is said with the increase of harmful substance abusers, many of whom are young people? Tell me, is it possible?

It is a matter of necessity that national government draws plans for the youth involved in such activities and engage the issues of harmful substances taken in by many youths in our country that are damaging our youthful population. A lifelike plan that seeks to REHABILITATE and REORIENT them have to be drawn. It is all of us responsibility, don’t see it as none of your business or feel HALFHEARTED about it. Their activities have a very bad UPSHOT on us as people and nation and it might ruin the very bright future that we talk about of this nation. Evidence of this is the the unfortunate incident that occurred in NEW KRU TOWN wherein about 30 persons lost their lives. This issue should not be overlooked and taken as a joke.

This issue is of more pressing concerns to the point that the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution in 1995 known as The World Programme of Action for Youth on Drug Abuse-Substance abuse WPAY(A/RES/50/81).

This resolution was indicated with letter F among other resolutions adopted by the General Assembly 1995. It was adopted in an effort to tackle/ discourage the use of harmful substances through governments commitment among young people.

Some major keynotes of the resolution are:

73. The vulnerability of young people to drug abuse has in recent years become a major concern. The consequences of widespread drug abuse and trafficking, particularly for young men and women, are all too apparent. Violence, particularly streets violence, often results from drug abuse and illicit drug networks.

74. As the number of psychotropic drugs increases steadily and the effects and prescriptive uses are often not fully known, some patient may not be adequately treated and others may become over-medicated. Abuse of prescription drugs, self-medication with tranquilizers, sleeping-pills and stimulants can also create serious problems, particularly in countries and regions where distribution controls are weak and habit-forming drugs are purchased abroad or licit channels of distribution. In this context, the vulnerability of young people raises a particular problem and specific measures are therefore needed.

75. The international community places particular emphasis on reducing the demand for and supply of illegal drugs and preventing abuse. Supply reduction includes combating international illicit drug trafficking. Drug abuse prevention initiatives range from discouraging people from taking drugs, thus preventing involuntary addiction, to helping those who are abusing drugs to stop doing so. Treatment programmers need to recognize that drug abuse is a chronic relapsing condition. It is essential for programmers to be adapted to the social and cultural context and for there to be effective cooperation between various approaches to treatment. To this end, national initiatives and measures to combat illicit drug trafficking should be fully supported and reinforced at the regional and international levels.

76. Drug control strategies at the national and international levels consistently emphasize initiatives aimed at reducing drug abuse among young people. This is reflected in the resolutions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and in the demand reduction programmes of the United Nations International Drug Control Programmes.

Proposals for action

1. Participation of youth organizations and youth in demand reduction programmes for young people

77. To be effective, demand reduction programmes should be targeted at all young people, particularly those at risk, and the content of the programmes should respond directly to the interests and concerns of those young people. Preventive education programmes showing the dangers of drug abuse are particularly important. Increasing opportunities for gainful employment and activities which provide recreation and opportunities to develop a variety of skills are important in helping young people to resist drugs. Youth organizations can play a key role in designing and implementing education programmes and individual counselling to encourage the integration of youth into the community, to develop healthy lifestyles and to raise awareness of the damaging impact of drugs. The programmes could include training of youth leaders in communication and counselling skills.

78. Government entities, in cooperation with relevant agencies of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, particularly youth organizations, should cooperate in carrying out demand reduction programmes for illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

2. Training medical and paramedical students in the rational use of pharmaceuticals containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances

79. The World Health Organization, associations of the medical, paramedical and pharmaceutical professions and pharmaceutical corporations and medical faculties and institutions could be asked to develop model training courses and disseminate information material for young medical and paramedical students on the proper handling of drugs and the early identification and diagnosis of substance abuse.

3. Treatment and rehabilitation of young people who are drug abusers or drug-dependent and young alcoholics and tobacco users

80. Research has been undertaken into the possibility of identifying medication to block cravings for specific drugs without creating secondary dependency, but much remains to be done in this area. The need for medical and social research in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse as well as rehabilitation, has become more urgent, particularly with the world-wide increase in abuse and addiction among young people. In such research, emphasis should be given to the fact that intravenous substance abuse raises the risk of contracting communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, arising from the sharing of needles and other injection equipment. The fruits of all such research should be shared globally.

81. Research on issues such as the medical treatment and the rehabilitation of young drug abusers, including the combination of different types of treatment, the problem of recidivism and the administrative aspects of drug treatment, and the inclusion of students in the relevant faculties in such research, should be encouraged.

82. In cooperation with the institutions of civil society and the private sector, drug abuse prevention should be promoted, as should preventive education for children and youth and rehabilitation and education programmes for former drug and alcohol addicts, especially children and youth, in order to enable them to obtain productive employment and achieve the independence, dignity and responsibility for a drug-free, crime-free productive life. Of particular interest is the development of treatment techniques involving the family setting and peer groups. Young people can make significant contributions by participating in peer group therapy to facilitate the acceptance of young drug-dependent persons and abusers upon their re-entry into society. Direct participation in rehabilitation therapy entails close cooperation between youth groups and other community and health services. The World Health Organization and other world-wide medical and mental health organizations could be requested to set guidelines for continuing research and for carrying out comparable programmes in different settings, whose effectiveness could be evaluated over a given period of time.

4. Care for young drug abusers and drug-dependent suspects and offenders in the criminal justice and prison system

83. Authorities should consider strategies to prevent exposure to drug abuse and dependence among young people suspected or convicted of criminal offences. Such strategies could include alternative measures, such as daily reporting to police stations, regular visits to parole officers or the fulfilment of a specified number of hours of community service.

84. Prison authorities should cooperate closely with law enforcement agencies to keep drugs out of the prison system. Prison personnel should be discouraged from tolerating the presence of drugs in penal institutions.

85. Young prisoners who are already drug-dependent should be targeted as priority candidates for treatment and rehabilitation services and should be segregated as appropriate. Guidelines and standard minimum rules should be prepared to assist national authorities in law enforcement and prison systems in maintaining the necessary controls and initiating treatment and rehabilitation services. Action along these lines constitutes a long-term advantage to society, as the cycle of dependence, release, repeated offences and repeated incarcerations constitutes a heavy burden on the criminal justice system, quite apart from the wasted lives and personal tragedies which result from drug dependence and criminal behavior.

There is an urgent need that national government take heed of this resolution in the fight of combating/ tackling the issues of substance abuse among young people, it is very serious.

Our youthful population needs to be protected and safeguarded. More understandably, below are facts to solidify what am talking about and for you to understand what provokes me to such write-up.

It was stated by the United Nations-UN on Nov.25, 2013 that 65% of our population at that time which was 4.1 (4,100,000) million people were young people and 85% of those young people were unemployed as it was estimated.

Now, let’s understand something here, 65% of 4.1 million is what? Let’s compute, you can easily multiply 65 by 4,100,000 and divide that outcome by 100. Here it goes, 65*4,100,000, its equal to 266,500,000. Divide 266,500,000 by 100, Our final mathematical calculation has given us 2,665,000, which means the total numbers of young people of our total population at that time was 2,665,000. To proof that our country is a youthful nation, you can simply subtract 2,665,000 from 4,100,000. Let’s do this simple calculation. 4,100,000-2,665,000, the answer is Liberia is a youthful nation period. Tell me if the number of young people keep engaging in consuming those harmful substances, will it not affect the future of our young leaders and nation? You , think about that!

To further solidify that Liberia is a youthful nation, it was AVERRED by Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services-LISGIS also that, Liberia is a young country. If it is true that the young people are the future leaders, then our LEADERS need to wake up on a RESCUE mission. We are gradually losing vast majority of our youth to harmful substances.

In addendum, let’s look at the percent of youth unemployment at that time. Youth unemployment at that time was 85%. Can you imagine this! This means that 85% of 2,665,000 young people were unemployed. Let’s do the mathematics, 85% of 2,665,000 is what? You can simply multiply 85*2,665,000 and divide the given answer by 100. Let do this 85*2,665,000= 226,525,000/100= 2,265,250. To figure out the number of young people that were unemployed and employed at that time, you subtract 2,265,250 from 2,665,000. You will clearly understand that 2,265,250 were unemployed and 399,750 were employed. The margins/ gaps between the unemployed and employed youth which was 1,865,500 at that time were wide and frustrating!

Youth unemployment might be one of the major factors leading to the increase wave of young people involving into NAUSEOUS activities and bad substances in taking. These are very counterproductive to our fragile peace as nation. The issues of youth unemployment were emphasized by the United Nations because the youths are central to the progress and development of every nation. Sometimes, I ask myself whether LIBERIA DRUGS ENFOREMENT AGENCY-LDEA exists? If LDEA exists, implementation of its functions is lacking.

Here is the fundamental essence of the LDEA:

The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) is a semi-autonomous agency under the supervisory authority of the Ministry of Justice, responsible for effective and efficient enforcement of laws pertaining controlled drugs, substances and precursors, including essential chemicals.

LDEA plays a drug-crime focused role in national law enforcement. The Agency implements measures to protect the territorial borders of Liberia from the importation and exportation of drugs and controlled substances.

Vision:

To become most proactive and one of the leading Drug Law Enforcement Agency in West Africa and one of the best in the world through the provision of effective and efficient services to Liberians by cutting off supply of illicit drugs, reducing demand for illicit drugs and other substances of abuse, tracing and recovering drug related proceeds and contributing to the creation and maintenance of an enviable image of Liberia throughout the world.

Mission:

The Drug Enforcement Agency shall disrupt, dismantle, and eliminate all threats posed to the Republic of Liberia by illicit drug trafficking and abuse. It shall deploy all resources at its disposal for a complete purge of illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances; suppression of demand for illicit drugs and other substances of abuse; retrieval of ill-gotten wealth acquired from proceeds of illicit drug trade; protection, enhancement and maintenance of the image of Liberia and Liberians in the diaspora.

Our youths, our future. A bright future of a nation depends on potential and vibrant youths who have been prepared to occupy future positions of national responsibilities and execute those responsibilities proactively relating to the progress of the nation rather than retrogression.

It’s a matter of exigency that national government plans to control or protect our youthful population from the above mentioned harmful and destructive substances which young people are paramount CONSUMERS of through the necessary regulatory agencies. These things are very dangerous for our health, security, future and existence as a youthful nation.

Sources are:

UN WPAY(A/RES/50/81).

LIGIS

Ministry of Justice-MOJ

ModernGhana Links

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