Dealing with the drug abuse menace: The way forward
One problem that has become an albatross on the neck of this country is the menace of drug abuse and illicit trafficking. In the past, drug abuse was highly concentrated amongst the youth in the urban centres. That was the time that it was considered an urban problem.
But, in recent times, the issue of drug abuse has become a national canker, which continues to find its way, into the social fabric of our society. The consumption rate of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine has been on the increase. Also the trade in illegal drugs has become so rife in almost every nook and cranny of this nation. In most Ghanaian communities, drug peddlers have found a save haven in what they have described as “Ghettos” to go about their criminal and nefarious activities. And their target audience has been the youth.
Disquieting about the drug abuse threat is the fact that the youth who take in so much of such harmful substances like marijuana and cocaine have become hardened criminals in their various localities. Some, as a result of the adverse effects of such drugs, are now armed robbers parading the corridors of the country and robbing innocent people of their properties. There is also the added phenomenon where these wee-smokers terrorize residents, and in many cases, rob them of their mobile phones and other valuable items.
Apart from the fact that those who smoke these substances become drug addicts and carry along a certain posture that makes them fearful in their vicinities, these social miscreants are also a nuisance and a burden not only to their respective families but the entire society. More importantly, parents of such children always bear the brunt of paying for damages caused by their wards. In the case of mental impairment, as a result of the use of such drugs, the state is compelled to take of their feeding, shelter and clothing where they are housed at places like the Psychiatric centre at Ridge in Accra and the Pantang Hospital.
It is in this respect that the Ghanaian Journal would want to call on the government to consider seriously the various recommendations made by the Chief Psychiatric of the Ministry of Health, Dr Akwasi Osei, in terms of resourcing and raising the status of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) to an Independent Commission. Such a move, Dr Osei explained would ensure that NACOB serves as a coordinating body independent of the Ministry of Health. In this wise, NACOB would be able to perform its functions effectively as it would be adequately resourced with both logistics and human beings.
Further, the Chief Psychiatric recommended a comprehensive national drug policy and the establishment of a National Drug Abuse Centre. According to him, such a centre would become an avenue where information and research findings on drugs in the country can be obtained.
The Ghanaian Journal shares the various suggestions made by Dr Osei and would therefore urge government to examine them carefully and take steps to see to its implement. We believe that if government gives the proposals by Dr Osei a thought, as a nation we will be making progress in our battle against illicit trafficking of drugs.
Most important, too, government must equip our law enforcement agencies to make them battle-ready against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. We must be guided by the fact that drug barons and peddlers and hardened criminals who will fight tooth and nail to protect their goods. Therefore our law enforcement agencies should be well prepared to deal with them.
Nevertheless we seize this opportunity to applaud the recent swoops by the police which were aimed at flushing out criminals and drug abusers from their hideouts. We hope that these criminals have been processed to stand trial at the law courts for appropriate punishments to be meted out to them to serve as deterrent to other potential criminals in the country.
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