THE REALITIES OF DRUG ABUSE
The world, particularly Africa is sliding down a dangerous path of destruction directed by alcohol and drugs.
A walk at night in our towns and cities, especially through our night clubs, and drinking joints will confirm that we are indeed losing our future leaders to alcohol and such drugs as marijuana, hashish, heroin, cocaine, crack, cigarettes and other tobacco related substances.
A decline in morality, spirituality and purposeful living with consequential increase in crime, poverty, waywardness, fraud and the likes have become symptomatic with our society lately.
As a youth it is heart –rendering to see my contemporaries losing the battle for a fulfilled life to various sorts of addictions.
This is indeed a matter that must be tackled with all urgency for the sake of our own future.
If we are to make any progress in the fight against alcohol and other addictive drugs, there is the need for a new paradigm in the management of dependency cases in our hospitals, mental and rehabilitation institutions; a shift from the old ways of doing things.
A paradigm is the generally accepted perspective of a particular discipline at a given time. It is a system of doing things, a generally upheld view on any issue in any particular time period.
There were times in Ghana when women were thought of as incompetent in many respects and hence relegated to the kitchen and to the undertaking of other house chores. They were denied education. The paradigm at the time favoured male children; they had the education. They were considered competent and in some cultures more “human”. That was a paradigm.
A paradigm reinforces itself on the people who uphold it. For example in the above example, it is evident that women then believed that they were indeed incompetent and were content to be housewives; taking care of the house chores. Today, thankfully, the paradigm is changing and women are developing confidence in their abilities. The paradigm is changing.
There is the current paradigm when victims of various sorts of addictions are being told that their condition is a disease and cannot be cured. In 1784, Benjamin Rush first described alcoholism as a disease. It was subsequently upheld by the American Medical Association in 1956 and then the rest of the medical world many years down the line.
This description of addictions does no good. It does not encourage drug dependant people who are struggling to become free from addictions to persevere. After all they are suffering from an incurable disease.
This description is even beside the point since i know several people who have successfully quit the use of alcohol and other addictive drugs.
They say that “once an addict, always an addict”. No one was born an addict. It is time for us to unlearn some of these wrong things we have learnt over the years and re-programme our minds towards the positives which are of course within our grasp.
Drug dependent people need your help; not your pity.
The substance abuse issue is not as simple as some perceive it from the outside. It is a battle of life and death. Consequences such as loss of friends, spouses, job and even threats of death emanating from the use of drugs are not enough to stop people from perpetuating their dependence on drugs.
People who use drugs heavily and for such a long time that they tend to depend on them for one reason or the other are referred to as alcoholics (if the drug is alcohol) or addicts. According to Chris Prentis, in his book- The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure, drugs are not the problems; they are what people are using to help themselves cope with the problems. “People are just using drugs as a crutch to get through the day”. He goes further to advice strongly that the underlying problem be treated instead of trying to treat alcoholism, as if it were the problem. “They might as well be studying “scratchism” for people who have a chronic itch”, he says.
It is my fervent wish that this book will touch individuals, churches, schools, political leaders, corporate bodies among others to rise up and advance modern ways of winning back our future leaders from the firm grips of alcohol and drug abuse. Inasmuch as a shift in paradigm is a difficult and time consuming thing to achieve, it is necessary to pursue that course as a people.