Truly speaking, a lot has been said about the youths of today. Arguments have been pitted and in most cases it is a wakeup call for the youths to be sober, vigilant and responsible for the walk of tomorrow. But the youths take this like a walk in a park, with excitement, anxiety ,recklessness and irresponsibility .They forget the thorny nature of the walk , the numerous setbacks and pitfalls sometimes serves to derail the pursuit of our interests. As a youth, I have been reminded many times that I am the hope of the future society, the pillar of my society’s foundation and a grain of the society’s economy. I have been told to walk carefully lest the epitome of hope fades away. But behind the façade of all the hopes we have for our youths, the praises and recognition bestowed upon us, the African Youth has bred criminality, mistrust, evilness and irresponsibility among a few of us. Talk about theft, burglary, drug abuse and the likes and the accusing finger turns to that innocent young person amidst our presence.
Over the past years, abuse of drugs and other substances especially among the young generation has skyrocketed to unprecedented percentages and no one is currently safe from the scourge. The use of drugs has been linked to the rising crime rates in our society, the moral decadence, high rates of school unrests especially in post primary levels, reduced academic performance in schools, absenteeism in schools among students, poverty, and even family dysfunction.
Our continent is ridiculed by the above malaise and its youth population is deliberately and tactfully being recruited into the drug net through peer influence, exposure to drugs, ignorance and mass media influence. In most cases, most youths take drug because of ignorance, for experimentation and denial. These are factors which our society can easily address to ensure that the young population is not at risk of drug abuse. Proper public awareness programs need be in place to salvage our youths. There is need for empowerment to enlighten the youth in areas of drugs. The simplicity of this program should include from the basic definition of drug and drug abuse to their effects. They need to know the types of drugs that can be abused; the effects predisposed to them as individuals, their families, their education and social orientation, and even to the community in general. The awareness program must dispel denial, myths and misconceptions surrounding usage of drugs since this has led many youths to use drugs. And I pose a challenge to Naydians : what can we do to address drug abuse in Africa and especially using Network of African Youths for Development? Kindly drop me an email at [email protected] or [email protected] to assist our fellows undergoing addiction.
The simplest definition of a drug as any chemical substance which when taken into the body will alter the normal operation of the body is enough evidence that drugs are not just ordinary chemicals. Drugs can be administered orally, injected, chewed, sniffed or even smoked. Drug abuse, on the contrary, is the non-medical use of drugs that destroy the health and productive life of an individual. One intentionally uses a substance for the sole purpose of altering the psychological state without any medical supervision. It can be the use of pain killers to reduce pain or use of prescription drugs to induce sleep without medical supervision.
The consumption of alcohol, be it locally or commercially made, has resulted to a lot of negative impacts to us as a continent. Loss of income as a result of excessive drinking leading to dismissal from job, loss of life and acquisition of lifetime diseases caused by drinking has been witnessed myriad times. The consumption of alcohol affects body organs like the brain, the heart, liver, stomach, pancreas, kidney and even the skin. Alcohol may cause diabetes, heart failure, stomach ulcers, kidney failure and brittle bones that make bone fracture easy. As may be noted, the above maladies are lifestyle diseases and as a society we should prevent them rather than invest in curative approaches. In Kenya alone, in September the country lost over 40 lives through consumption of illicit brews while over 100 were hospitalized.
Other drugs like bhang have major health and social effect to users. These include narrow mindedness –where an individual suffers from illusions and unrealities. They imagine, think of places and things for a long period! This may result into insanity or madness. The drugs interfere with attention, concentration, memory, and logical thinking thus one’s ability to perform complex or make sound judgment is compromised. Such a person becomes violent, rebellious or may live in a dream world. Drug abuse results into what is referred to as dependence. This is a costly syndrome where one becomes a slave of drug.
Physiological dependence caused by drug abuse means that if one does not use drugs ,then the body cannot function without displeasure and discomfort like feelings of sickness. Or when one has symptoms like a diarrhea, pain, shaking of hands then he /she must take drugs for the symptoms to temporally disappear. Another form of dependence is psychological where the drugs is taken for stimulation or pleasure and include cocaine and heroin.
As youths, we have to resist temptations of drug abuse. The future is bright for us only when we put considerate efforts and we become mindful of our future. As already been noted, the mind is a self regulating organ and does not require any inducement –with drugs like alcohol, bhang or cigarettes Let us not make a bright future bleak and blurred. We have a sober brain to take us far without inducing our thoughts with bhang, tobacco or sniffing glue. This is my appeal and my commitment to the Africa Youths. ■
Chairman, Intervarsity Peer Counselors Association –IVPCA,