Why youth must be involved in war on drugs

WAR on drugs has not been won yet and efforts are needed to prevent illegal drugs from entering the country as the business has negative effects on the nation’s economy and development.

Drug addiction is a serious scourge that does not recognize geographical boundaries and currently afflicting nations at alarming rate. It was important to involve the youths in the fight against drugs and building the economy as they constitute about 34 per cent of the country’s population.

To realize this, the government should empower the youth through education and empowerment. On the education system, government has introduced a free education policy and was planning to to establish Vocational Training Centres (VTC) in each district.

We recognise efforts by the government to transform the country into a middle income economy status towards industrialization by 2025 which will create employment for the youth. It was high time the youth were treated as change makers.

The youths get involved in drugs due to various reasons including peer pressure, curiosity, wanting to be different, rioting from the system and also due to escape behaviour, i.e., running away from problems. Most drug abusers are said to have glue with them, possess large paper bags, handkerchiefs, and hypodermic syringes.

The effects in terms of problems and/or dangers of drug abuse are highlighted as brain damage, behavioural disorders, inability to reason and low academic performance. Addiction to drugs is a vice that an individual can try to get away with given the right environment like rehabilitation centres.

For many, it has worked quite well for them while others have fallen in the same traps right after they get back into the outside world, and have access to their suppliers again.

Dr Hamza Mugula, the Bukoba Municipal Doctor in- Charge appealed to the youth to participate in income generating activities, instead of wasting time loitering and sitting at jobless corners, also noting that about 42 drug addicts were currently undergoing counselling and treatment at Mugeza Rehabilitation Centre.

In collaboration with other stakeholders, we have started a poultry project in Muleba District and a tree planting project in Misenyi District, where some of the addicted youth go regularly to have knowledge on how they can start their own projects,…this approach has shown positive results.

Sellers of drugs, just like any other sellers, always want their merchandise to sell-out. This causes them to cheat clients on the standard consumption amounts that end up being dangerous for users and causing high dependence that wouldn’t have otherwise become the case.

For the sellers, addiction does not matter to them because it creates a continuous market for their supply while they ignore the fact that they are placing someone’s life in danger. In case of death, the seller of the drug should be fully charged with manslaughter after selling a product that they very well knew would be harmful to the user.

It isn’t an intentional act but it is part of the series of events that caused someone to lose his/ her life. The user is also responsible for the act as the criminal that sold these goods to him/her and holds a lot of blame for using a product that they know isn’t good for their health and is also illegal.

The dealer is also highly accountable for the act of selling illegal drugs and plays a key role in creating an environment of drug abusers that can spread like a wildfire if not fought hard by the authorities. In 2011, the Drugs Control Commission (DCC) which deal with drug abuse reported that the number of people who are addicted ranges from 150,000 and 500,000.

Most of the people who are involved in drug abuse are youth who are often involved in trafficking and consuming illegal drugs like cannabis. The common illegal drugs in Tanzania are khat, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and cannabis.

In his speech, he warned Statistics indicate that most drug abusers are youths; our campaigns are aimed at equipping youths with knowledge about the dangers of drug abuse so that they cannot fall prey of the vice.

Implementation of the programme, in five more regions, would include upgrading of rehabilitation centres and enhancing the country’s capacity at treating drug addicts. Todate, Methadone-based treatment is only available in Dar es Salaam Region, at the Muhimbili National Hospital and Mwananyamala and Temeke hospitals, serving 3,351 drug addicts only.

The move has come following government’s war on drug abuse, peddling and importation, hence the need to widen the scope of aiding victims with the means to recover. The government is committed to increasing availability of Methadone treatment in the country to help save the nation’s work force currently affected by illegal drugs, said the Minister.

The new regions, she said were selected following a research that established that they relatively had the highest number of drug addicts compared against the national average. A team of professional psychiatrists conducted a countrywide research pertaining to use of diverse narcotics.

The ministry has already trained a number of mental health personnel for managing the centres in the relevant regions. In Tanzania, there are several sober house centers in different regions, which provide treatment and consultation to drug addicts.

They receive a number of people who are addicted and live with them for a certain period of time, depending on how one is affected. On the other hand, the government, through the Ministry of Health, Community, Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children provides support to the hospitals and sober houses.

Parents and the community at large should be involved in anti-drug programmes.

Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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