According to a recent study, about 27,000 people are suffering from mental disorders and half of this number has mental illness caused by cannabis. This should cause worry among all concerned citizens, knowing for a fact that majority of those using cannabis are youths who are supposed to be the backbone of the country. The Gambia would go practically nowhere in its efforts to increase and boost the level of economic advancement if the youthful population is caught in drug abuse.
The National Drug Enforcement Agency is doing a lot to help in curbing the drug problem and since its inception, much progress has been registered in their programmes in sensitising the people on the dangers of abuse. However, there is a lot more to be done. With the rise of mental disorders resulting from drug abuse, we cannot lean back and relax. It will of course take more than law enforcement to stop this. In essence, we need constant education and support to the efforts outlined by government.
Apart from the harms of mentally impairing users, drugs contribute to the high rate of school dropouts in the country. Education is key to all that’s good in life and without it, a person will live a gullible life at the mercy of whims of others. The link that binds drugs and illiteracy is a strong one indeed. And it will be a catastrophe to let a majority of our youths live in ignorance and illiteracy, because that would cost the nation more than it was ever going to spend in fighting the drug menace itself.
To accelerate the fight against drugs, it must be noted that most of the things making the young people indulge in these activities are issues that should be tackled at a societal level. The fallacious notion that drugs help in easing everyday stress and tensions needs to be fought with proper teaching and awareness within the homes and schools. The school system should specifically have counseling sessions on issues like this, and also cooperate with the relevant stakeholders to raise awareness on the many fallacies and myths surrounding the use of drugs.
Arresting and punishing the culprits is a good measure but how long will that take to eradicate the problem? The use of force will only go a short way in addressing the problem; the real solution is in altering the psyche and making people know the dangers inherent in drug abuse. Many times, ironically, the law enforcement efforts only increase the use of substances, that with the glorification of gangster and thug mentalities by most of the music now available to youths, its seen almost heroic to indulge in things that contravene the laws of the land. So the challenge lies in deconstructing the myth bred by that type of music and offer alternatives to healthier types of entertainment.
It is also imperative to have a rehabilitation centre for those who are already addicted. Many will only need therapy and a proper environment to quit once and for all. It’s the duty of all Gambians to help in making our country a drug free nation. The young population needs to be saved and set upon a proper path far from the evils of drugs and substance abuse.]]>