Drug abuse must be dealt with now
Posted Saturday, February 23 2013 at 02:00
There may be a link between the marked decline in school performance and increase in illegal drug use among students.
Research by several international organisations shows that illicit drug use is quickly becoming a global problem to be resolved. Probably because of the influence of popular culture, substance abuse among the youth has become an acute problem.
In Uganda, recent studies in schools around Kampala indicated that 62 per cent of secondary school students consume alcohol while 15 per cent of the students use marijuana and another seven per cent said they used other addictive substances.
At least 70 per cent of drug abusers are said to combine the toxicants which they use. Confessions by students we have interviewed about drug abuse are worrying and if the trend in drug abuse continues as it is, it could become more difficult to deal with in the future.
Drug abuse as a social problem affects everybody. It has been suggested that there may be a link between the marked decline in school performance today and increase in illegal drug use among students.
Experts observe that drug abuse damages the physiological maturation of a young person’s brain, even in the short term. It also interferes with alertness during class or working hours, hence slowing down normal growth and development. Thus drugs used by adolescents to make themselves seen more mature will, over time, actually make them less mature than other people of their age.
But perhaps the recent death of Butaleja woman legislator, Cerina Nebanda and the former Amazing Race producer Jeff Rice—all linked to drugs, brought to the fore the bigger and often hidden problem of drug abuse in Uganda.
The availability of cheap drugs in Uganda partly results from weak law enforcement but also the easy transit of drugs through Uganda. The Police have been quick to defend themselves against abetting the vice in the country, saying that the problem is that several convicted drug traffickers get away with short sentences or fines—not equal to the intensity of the problem.
The weak laws have helped drug barons use the country as a transit point for trafficking drugs, like heroin, from some Asian countries to Europe, China and United States. There is need for the Police, ministries of education and that of Health, and school authorities to come together and devise meaningful solutions to this growing but dangerous problem.