Public Agenda today highlights the increasing use of illicit drugs among the youth and some adults. Some psychologists have defined drug menace as “the illicit, non- medical use of limited number of substance.” These drugs have the power to alter the mental state of its user.
That is why they are considered harmful and therefore ‘undesirable’. They include alcohol, opium, heroin, marijuana amongst many others. Recently, a number of SHS students were accused of indulging in the excessive misuse of marijuana on school grounds. However, the problems are far deeper.
Drug abuse or issue has far reaching consequences on our society. While some dispute the long-term effects of the use of marijuana, Research has proven that its use could have fatal consequences in the long term. Others like heroin costs a lot of money, is very addictive and requires long term care to wean users off the effects.
Ghana’s health system will crumble if it has to add drug abuse to the already long list of diseases the health service has to contend with. The youth could suffer long term consequences as drug use affects their mental capacity to concentrate on their books, pass exams and become useful members of society.
In most cases, this could be the main cause of theft, armed robbery, trafficking of women and children, and violence in the home. It could also lead to breakdown in mental health. None of these are healthy for any society that is why some countries spend their resources in prevention rather than care.
This is one area which requires careful planning and action to ameliorate the cases, uses and effects of drug abuse. Parents, school authorities, Ghana Health Service and indeed all health agencies, including non-governmental organizations should come together to discuss ways of preventing drug abuse, and in cases where this has already happened, develop recovery centers for those afflicted.
Our government can consider the decriminalization of drug abuse sending users to drug rehabilitation centers to wean them off their addiction and affliction rather than to prison. There is an urgent need for a sustained public awareness campaign against drug abuse to alert parents, health agencies and schools. The campaign should target those who are tempted to indulge in them to see the harmful effects of this habit.
The Government could also consider setting up Rehabilitation Centers for drug addicts rather than sending them to hospitals.
Apart from rising unemployment, the drug menace is one area that could hit Ghana hard in years to come. The time to deal with this menace is now.