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15.07.2009 Editorial

Hard Drugs And The Generation Gap

By Daily Guide
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Those who belong to the generation which was sandwiched between the middle class and the romantic revolutionaries will tell you that, they came face to face with hard and addictive drugs like Cocaine, Heroine, Ecstasy, Barbiturates, Marijuana and Purple Violet. 

They will tell you that they seriously got involved in the consumption of these drugs and even got addicted to them until they were able to uncoil themselves from the grip of those drugs. 

“Black Power” was the Gospel of the day and James Brown used to shout: Say it loud, I am black and proud.  In fact it is proper for me to say that not all who belong to this generation dabbled in hard drugs. Remember those days?

Those were the days when the Jackson 5, Beatles, Areta Franklin, Wilson Picket, Tina Turner and of cause James Brown ruled the musical world. 

Rastafarians were not commonly seen around, but 'Wee” was common.  About seventy percent of this particular generation experimented with hard drugs. 

When grown-ups tried to caution them about the dangers of these drugs, they thought it was a joke-reefer madness.  Those were the days when hippies wore flowers in their hair.    

Some of them will tell you that when they looked back on their experiments, it was all fun and harmless.   

But if you did drugs as a kid, how do you talk to your children about the dangers now that you are old and responsible?  In fact, how do you tell your children that once upon a time when you were young you were once hooked to hard drugs? 

Will you be bold enough to tell your children that you were addicted to cocaine, “wee' etc. but realizing the dangers in the stuff, you quitted?  Will you be able to tell them how you felt when you first “puffed” Ganja?

That is the dilemma of most parents today in Ghana.    In fact that is the thornier challenges now facing parents who once experimented drugs. 

Like a lot of parents who once experimented hard drugs, Cecilia (not real name) once celebrated drug use as a rite of adolescent passage.  Cecilia's generation now has children of their own, either slogging through or approaching their teens and the drug menace is now more dangerous than her time. 

For a generation that believes it skewered anti-drug hypocrisy, this can be a source of real parental anxiety. 

There are some parents who make no moral distinction between alcohol and marijuana.  Though they drink before their children, they will never light up a Ganja before them because they have the funny belief that one is illegal but the other is not.  

The questions we ask are:  How much should you tell your kids about your own past?  When? How can you just say no, when you spent your salad days just saying yes?  In short, how does the drug generation now talk to its children about drugs? 

One answer is: not very effectively.  Twenty years ago, the drug menace started declining, but today, the rate of teenage drug use has risen sharply in the last ten years.  In some cases, nearly doubling.  Majority of school-going children have tried marijuana or cocaine and the number keeps increasing year after year. 

A research conducted by your Angel Gabriel in one city in this country indicated that about 15% of parents say that their teens have tried marijuana.  38% of teens say they have tried drugs.  95% of parents interviewed by this writer say they have talked to their teens about drugs and 77% of teens also say they have been talked to by their parents about drugs. 

The stack reality is that hard drugs have come to be part and parcel of the Ghanaian society.  

One parent who spoke on the basis of anonymity argued that parents should avoid telling their children too much about their own drug use, just as they would not share the details of their sex lives.  He said young children especially can be confused by their parents' simplistic confessions that they used drugs. 

According to him, many parents are afraid that their children will say, “Didn't you try it then?”

Twenty years ago, the use of cocaine, hashish and heroine is popular with only the elitists in society because of its high price.  Today, come to my holy village and see.  Even the truck pusher who is supposed to earn just a little enough to help him get two square meals a day is now hooked to these drugs. 

The drugs are sold in our small villages and hamlets.  It is now an open secret that the drug barons have stretched their arms to the youth in our villages where they have their agents.   Instead of getting something doing which will earn them a wage, they spend precious hours sniffing the stuff in the ghettos.  A

fter “highing”, they roam about looking for money to buy more cocaine.  Sometimes they even sell their personal belongings like shirts, shoes, mobile phones and watches in order to get money to go “high”.  

When they look around and find none, they resort to armed robbery.  That is the problem which concerns all of us.

What is most disturbing about this drug issue is the attitude of the Ghana Police Service.  It is an undeniable fact that all District Commanders and their men and women do know where these drug peddlers operate in their areas of jurisdiction.  It is alleged that the police are paid protection money by the pushers.  That is why they turn a blind eye to the issue of hard drugs. 

There is the perception that when the district bosses of the Police Service collect this protection money, they give a percentage to the Divisional Commanders who also give part to the IGP.  It is alleged that similar thing is done in the case of policemen who mount barriers and extort money from drivers.

If the IGP thinks what people are saying is not true, then I challenge him to order his men to embark on a simultaneous raid at all the dens of drug peddlers, arrest and arraign them.  Have I opened a Pandora's Box?    If that is the case, so be it.  Crucify me if you can!!!

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