16th July 2024

The writer

Many people find it difficult to understand how some people can get addicted to drugs. They deduce that the person who frequently uses drugs lacks moral principles, and cannot muster the will power to stop using them. Well, in real life, drug addiction is a very complex disease, and a person requires a lot more than just strong will power and good intentions to overcome it.

Experts say drugs manipulate and change the human brain in a way that makes it very difficult to stop taking them. It makes the person believe they cannot live without drugs. Drug use has been a significant problem for the youth over the past years. Surveys show that about 50% of students in schools, colleges and universities face drug problems at some point in their life.


Why youth take drugs

It is believed that many youngsters start using drugs just because their friends are doing same. They are mostly influenced by their friends that drugs impact positively on mental and intellectual development. This, however, turns out to be the opposite.

Some also believe they will be able to gain acceptance in a group if they start taking drugs like other peers. Teenagers’ social circle has been cited as one major reason why they start taking drugs. Sometimes a friend urges one to have a drink, or smoke some pot, and it all starts from there. The person begins to enjoy it, and feels the urge to do more because the drugs are readily available. They do this with the intention of trying to fit in with their friends, and things get out of hand. To them, it is just a phase they adopt to be with their friends.

Additionally, some are confronted with the examples of their idols and celebrities in the entertainment world. The entertainment industry is particularly plagued with drug abuse. Top performers on the music scene often become involved with heavy drugs at some stage in their career. Entertainers can give drugs a glamour and appeal that the youth seem to find irresistible.

A survey shows that 45% of teens agreed that the songs, movies and content they watch online make drugs look cool. A further 45% agreed to the fact that the content they watch online makes them believe that using drugs is ok and a good thing. Drugs are readily available all around us, in shops and stores. Some say that you can even buy drugs online on the dark web.

Some of the youth also believe that drugs make them feel good. This is what most teenagers say when you ask them why they take drugs or what prompts them to take drugs. They just shrug and say ‘it makes us feel good.’ Some depressed, sad, socially anxious children use drugs to make themselves feel better and to lessen their depression and anxiety.

It has been found that the stress of studies also compels students to take drugs. Stress plays a very vital role in starting the use of drugs as well as relapsing. The life a teenager lives nowadays can be quite stressful. Studies, social pressure, bullying, among others, contribute to the continuous stress they’re facing, and at some point this breaks a person.  As an escape, they look towards drugs as they make them happy and give them confidence.

The teenage and early twenties are very confusing and stressful time in the life of a person. Around this age, the young-adults are exposed to learning new things as well as wanting to experiment with new things. Therefore, when they see others doing drugs, they think, maybe, they should try this too. After trying, they may stop, or they may start using drugs regularly and develop an addiction for it.


Ways to stop using drugs

In fighting drug abuse among the youth, the home should be the starting point. ‘A problem known is half solved’, so goes the saying, and so with the knowledge of some of the causes of drug abuse among the youth. I will suggest that, first and foremost, the home, which is the foundation of the society, must be rehabilitated and children well nurtured. The family should inculcate into children good moral values. As we all know, ‘charity begins at home’, and whatever a child learns from home is most likely to remain in and with him for the rest of his life. You can prevent your child from using drugs at home. Talk to him, listen to what he has to say, hear his views on what got him into using the drug in the first place. Similarly, offer him alternatives to the drug and try to help him and show support.

Telling the addict what this drug will do to him if he or she keeps on using it will instill fear. It may even motivate that person to stop using the drug. He may muster up the will power to stop abusing the drug with professional help.

The religious bodies have an instrumental role to play in placing much premium on the teaching of moral values and the insistence on ‘the fear of God’ as the best antidote in keeping one out of evil acts. There’s also the need for guidance and counselling to be intensified in schools to equip students with information on the dangers associated with drug abuse. The pieces of advice that they will be gathering will go a long way to help them refrain from drug abuse, improve their lives and more importantly focus on their academic pursuits.

The security agencies also have a crucial role to play by ensuring that, they arrest drug peddlers and those who abuse them. They should be prosecuted and custodial sentences given to them to make it unattractive for people to abuse drugs.

Resource persons from psychiatric institutions and Borstal homes should occasionally interact with the youth, educate and create the necessary awareness of the real cost of drug use among very young people. This will serve as an eye-opener for them to know the health hazards associated with drug abuse

The youth constitute a greater percentage of the country’s human resources, and hold the key to the future. It is, therefore, important that they’re given the requisite guidance so that their future prospects do not become increasingly grim and jeopardized. Undoubtedly, for us to build a vibrant economy and witness accelerated socio-economic development, a better crop of youth who know and avoid dangerous drugs must be nurtured to carry the torch of our country into the future.

The author is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).



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