Alcohol, cannabis mostly abused substances – study 

Tuesday October 20 2020
By Nobert Atukunda

The study conducted by Makerere University School of Public Health has named alcohol and cannabis as the commonest abused drugs that have pushed people into rehabilitation facilities.
The research conducted between November 2019 and June this year, based on 10 rehabilitation facilities in the Kampala metropolitan area such as Butabika National Referral Mental Hospital, states that alcohol abuse had significantly high percentages recorded in the months of January, February, and March.
“Most of the clients in rehabilitation facilities who abuse alcohol and other drugs have attained at least secondary education. Clients with a secondary education level (43.9 per cent) abused alcohol compared to those with tertiary, primary. Alcohol, cannabis, crack cocaine, heroin and other substances use on a daily basis was at 92.4 per cent, 86.8 per cent, 98.4 per cent, 88.9 per cent and 86.4 per cent respectively,” reads the study in part.
Dr Nazarius Mbona Tumwesigye one of the authors of the study said most alcohol and drug abuse victims are young and single thus likely to waste their most productive stages of life.
“40 per cent of clients aged 24 to 34 abused cannabis compared to those between 15 and 24,” Dr Tumwesigye said.
Prof Noah Kiwanuka, Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at Makerere University School of Public Health, said this threatens the country’s future and needs to be addressed urgently.
“It’s the younger trees that are the strength of the forest. It should be young people we hand the map of the country when we retire…,” Prof Kiwanuka said.
Dr Tumwesigye revealed that most of the clients in rehabilitation centres had dropped out of school or lost their jobs whereas others had developed mental health complications as a result of drug abuse.
According to the study, most of the people are involved in drug abuse due to peer pressure, leisure, to feel better, and stress among other issues.
“Causes of stress to clients are school, friendships and relationships, family, work, finances among others. There is a need for re-empowerment,” Dr Tumwesigye said.
The 2019 Uganda Police Annual Crime Report, indicates that last year, 20 people were arrested in possession of heroin, while three had cocaine.
The report adds that 852 people were arrested in possession of cannabis while 1,875 were in possession of other narcotics.
The study investigators have called for the identification of hot spots where drugs are sold and design intervention measures to eliminate or reduce their sale and also, carry out more sensitisation.
Dr Hasfa Lukwata, the acting assistant commissioner for Mental Health and Control of Substance Abuse in the Ministry of Health said the problem of drug abuse is a multi-sectoral issue.
Dr Lukwata added that the growing of marijuana should not be licensed in Uganda as this brings problems much closer to homes.
“The ones who are after money, as if money is everything against public health, they are the ones who are trying to push this agenda of licensing the growing of marijuana in Uganda. Many are asking for licenses just because they have not looked at the repercussions of having that plant near you,” Dr Lukwata said.