How Ghana Is Gradually Losing The Fight Against Drug Use. We are always told that the fate of the nation lies in the hands of the youth and this is because the old won’t be there forever. Very soon they will be gone and the mantle will be passed on to youths to lead the way ahead of the next generation. There is always a question about the life of these very youth who are next in line to be nation builders and leaders. How is the youth handling drug use?
Can we say we are all abstaining from drugs or we are partially into it or we are deeply into it? The question is a heavy one because the current rate the youth is very much invested in drug use is alarming. Every corner and department of the country shares the blame. From the school to parents to the government and to religious bodies, everyone got a share of the blame.
The government watches as hard drugs are shipped and sold in the country as they take their commission through the ports and that is exactly how the tramodol infestation began. Tramodol became a nationwide problem when the youth just couldn’t stay away from it and ended up losing either their lives or their sanity. Things got out of hand before the government decided to stop whoever ships them here from doing so again but that doesn’t wash away their sins because they already failed at giving the youth something to better their lives. Instead of granting the youth jobs, they rather brought in the pills that will help them ruin their lives.
Tramodol was the only drug against which a strong campaign was mounted. What about the rest? What about cigarettes, weed, cocaine and the many drugs that parade our system? Are there going to be no campaigns rallied against them too? Or those doesn’t matter? The most used drug in this country is marijuana and despite a few good sides of this drug, it is not just appropriate for anyone nor should access to it be so easy.
Marijuana has been broken down into several varieties and at the moment we have marijuana candy, biscuits, cakes, drinks and many. Access to all of these is very easy and affordable as well. Dealing Marijuana is everywhere and with every second that passes countless grams are sold. Consumption is on the rise day by day as several people are recruited to try it for the first time each and every day so much that if an honest census was ever made on marijuana usage, 80% of the youths will fall victims.
How can nation-builders be raised when they spend almost all their time doing drugs? Can the same strong campaign mount against tramodol be done for every drug as well? The government should be doing more than it has already done or doing because it is alarming to find out that, the most purchased products in tertiary institutions especially universities is drugs. This shouldn’t even be a surprise because all these students do is round themselves up and smoke or pop pills whiles sipping on whatever is going to Make them high instead of studying to acquire the skills necessary to help push the country forward.
Back in the household communities, all they do is wake up and head to their various isolated camps to do drugs and nothing else. We lose so much with this habit and we barely even notice because there is never a notice. As much as I will dream, I will dream about a world where the youth are much more invested in waking up and doing something to help in nation-building rather than chase pleasures through the use of drugs.
In recent years, Ghana has become key drug transiting hub for traffickers. The 2016 UN World Drug Report ranked Ghana as the third cocaine transit destination in Africa behind Nigeria and South Africa. A crackdown on strategically placed Caribbean transit points has displaced a proportion of trade to West Africa, where traffickers are drawn by instability, fragile governance systems and high levels of corruption.
The increasing use of West Africa as a transit zone has been widely acknowledged to be an illustrative example of the ‘balloon effect’: pushing down drug production in one region has simply caused it to be geographically displaced to another.
Large volumes of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, the latter of which is grown domestically, are known to transit through the country, predominately bound for Europe. Seizures of methamphetamines, the first of which was reported in Ghana in 2011, have revealed that synthetic drugs are also transiting through Ghana.
UNODC officials predict a sharp increase in drug trafficking across Ghana across the next few years, in part due to the sophistication of the criminal networks operating in the area. Law enforcement bodies have neither the resources, capacity, or in some cases political will, to combat this rise.
Against this backdrop, the number of drug users in Ghana is growing. Drugs are often the currency used by drug traffickers to pay those involved in the trade. These drugs are then either consumed or sold cheaply on the domestic market, fomenting demand. This is a pattern that follows that of other key transit countries, such as Brazil or the Caribbean.
Demographic of drug users
Drug use is, for now, largely limited to the poorest sections of Ghanaian society. These drug users are unable to afford legal assistance or to bribe to police and therefore, due to the current minimum sentencing laws, Ghana’s prisons are swollen with minor drug offenders.
In an interview in April this year, Maria Goretti, a consultant for the International Drug Policy Consortium for Africa and working barrister in Ghana, ascribes punitive sentencing for minor drug offences as a key factor behind Ghana’s overcrowded prison population, which currently stands at circa 150% of designed capacity. Further, those that are sentenced have an extremely high rate of re-offending and are largely addicts in need of rehabilitation.
Culturally, drug addiction is seen as evidence of moral weakness in Ghana, an intensely Christian country, and addicts can find themselves shunned by society. One ex-addict described how he was perceived by society as either criminal or mentally ill – drug users are often repeatedly sent to psychiatric camps, some of which use very basic methods, including tying inmates to trees for extended periods of time, to cure them of their mental illness.
The low profile of drug users has resulted in the growing drug problem receiving more limited attention than it should. One senior law enforcement official interviewed in April commented that ‘the best thing that could happen would be for the President’s son to become addicted’.
Rehabilitation of drug addicts
Currently, there are only a handful of drug rehabilitation facilities in Ghana and the vast majority are privately run or linked to religious institutions and movements. REMAR, a rehabilitation centre that routinely drives its bus around the poorer areas of Accra picking addicts up off the street, is a Christian organisation. Another, the House of St Francis, was set up in 2012 as a collaborative effort between the Hopeful Way Foundation and the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra. It currently provides a residential treatment facility for men who either come to the centre voluntarily or are referred from psychiatric hospitals. A women-only residential treatment centre does not currently exist in Ghana due to difficulties in housing them with men; women addicts are therefore only provided with treatment at psychiatric hospitals.
The House of St Francis has a successful track record in weaning drug addicts off their addiction. In an interview in April 2017, the manager of the House of St Francis, himself an ex-addict, estimated that of the 200 addicts to have passed through the centre since 2012, approximately 60% completed the 6-month treatment course of which roughly 40% have remained sober. This can be contrasted to the fate of drug addicts given custodial sentences, who are more likely to end up in a spiral of re-offending and readdiction. Indeed, the rehabilitation centres unsurprisingly also appear to be more effective than psychiatric hospitals – the manager of St Francis estimates that he was in and out of prison and psychiatric hospital up to 30 times before being treated at a rehabilitation centre, where he was finally able to get clean.
However, the majority of institutions rely exclusively on donations from the church or generous individuals. Many facilities cannot offer overnight care and only some can afford medical assistance, the majority offer more limited support such as counselling.
Critics have pointed to these inadequacies as evidence that Ghana is not ready for a rehabilitation-focussed approach to its drug problems. Goretti counters such claims by arguing that the new Bill represents a first step that will catalyse growth in both public and private funded rehabilitation centres. The manager of the House of St Francis also welcomes the focus of the new Bill on rehabilitation. He hopes that the number of rehabilitation centres will increase to the point that judges will have the option, which they would not have under the draft Bill, to refer those convicted of drug offences to treatment facilities rather than prison. How Ghana Is Gradually Losing The Fight Against Drug Use.