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Drug Abuse Threaten Our Youth’s Future

More than one billion people today are believed to be aged between 15 and 24 years of age and nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population is below the age of 20. The majority of young people, 85 per cent, live in developing countries including Liberia, and according to the census of 2008 64 percent of our nation is under the age of 35 years old.

By 2025, the number of youths living in developing countries will grow to 89.5 per cent. In the next decade, more than one billion young people will enter the working age population worldwide, it was predicted.  Economists have acknowledged that young people are an important population group and a great potential for economic and social development as they are most productive and powerful human resources.

On the other hand they are like a time bomb which may explode and cause problem, if they are not employed and cannot be controlled. This is worrying trend for our leaders and the country. As a result of unemployment other issues which have confronted the bulging youth population in the developing nation is related to sex, drug abuse and crime. In any country, drug is one of the major concern leaders including political, church, mosque and other religious institutions have to confront.

Medical experts have also raised this issue of increasing drug problem that is happening now a day. More people are abusing drugs today than in any other time in history, and many of those people are youth. The connection between youth and drug abuse raises several questions, like; how are Liberian young people at risk of drug abuse? Why do Liberian young people use drugs? What is wrong with doing drugs when people have been doing them for centuries?

There is a lot to answer in these regard. But that reasons to believe why many youths have resort to these bad habits.  Early this week on Sunday night, one of the long time prominent community dwellers in the Front Street community stated to me that there are alarming situation about the increasing drug related problem in our community and the country at large.

But with lack of opportunities in the employment sector, this problem of drug abuse and other related social problems amongst youths has posed bigger problem for the country and its leaders. Drugs are substances which are used for proper use such as in medical treatment. But on the other hand there are drugs which are being abused which lead to problems affecting our youths.  According to experts a psychoactive substance is something that people take to change the way they feel, think or behave. Some of these substances are called drugs, and others, like alcohol and tobacco, are considered dangerous but are not called drugs.

Researchers said most drugs were made from plants which were grown and then converted into drugs such as coca paste, opium and marijuana. Over the years, these crude products were further processed to yield drugs like cocaine and heroin, and finally, in the 20th century, people found out how to make drugs from chemicals.

These are called man-made, or synthetic, drugs and include speed, ecstasy, LSD, etc.  These were initially manufactured for largely experimental reasons and only later were used for recreational purposes. Now, however, with the increased size and scope of the drug trade, people set out to invent drugs especially for recreational human consumption.

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Substance abuse has many negative physiological health effects, ranging from minor issues like digestion problems or respiratory infections, to potentially fatal diseases, like AIDS and hepatitis C, medical experts said that drug abuse has caused brain damage, depending on the drug, the strength and character of this damage varies. “Drug abuse affects the way the brain functions and alters its responses to the world”.  Since then the use of alcohol and tobacco has gradually increased without any serious intervention by neither the government, health and educational authorities, nor by the many churches and missions.

In the 1990’s marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogenic plant drugs and the misuse of prescription- and non-prescription drugs appeared on the drug scene. Especially the use of marijuana has exploded in the Liberia.   This trend had seen the changing lifestyle affecting the country more so the young people of this country. Its time responsible authorities should step up their effort and address it properly through partnership and approachable manner for the good of this nation.

Ali Sylla a Psychotherapist at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Executive Director for the Center for Counseling and Restorative Dialogue, Inc.  Located on King Sao Street Monrovia, Liberia, Tel: 231-6274694 or email @ solanso07@hotmail.com

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