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Making The Gambia drug-free

Jun 29, 2016, 11:12 AM

(Issue Monday June 27, 2016)

The Gambia, through government agencies and departments such as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Directorate of Health Promotion and Education and the National Youth Council, is vigorously planning to commemorate International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking, or simply called World Drug Day.

As the day is prepared for in earnest, records, as stated by the NDLEA, have shown that about 1,502 people, mainly youths, were arrested and detained between 2012 and 2016 in The Gambia.

This situation is seriously alarming and a cause for concern, especially that it has been established by the relevant authorities that most of those involved in drug abuse and illicit trafficking of drugs are the young people (teenagers) of our society.

“One thousand five hundred and two youths have been involved and detained in drug trafficking within four years from 2012 to 2016, mostly teenagers at the age of thirteen,” the NDLEA publicity relations officer has said.

He has disclosed that 210 million youths across the world have however been found involved in drug trafficking and 20,000 die annually due to health complications caused by the abuse of drugs.

Considering the population of our nation it should really be worrying having such a huge number of people nabbed in drug-abuse offences over a four-year period.

This really calls for more concerted efforts at reversing such a negative and destructive trend.

Just as the NDLEA and its partner institutions have said, the battle to discourage substance abuse should be fought by all and sundry, as the parents, teachers, religious leaders, chiefs and village elders, the government and the security apparatus are all part and parcel of the fight against drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking in this country.

The youth – the cream and future of our nation – are at stake in this crusade. Their health and productive life is being destroyed as they take into drugs and become addicted, since drug addiction destroys lives, tears apart families and harms society.

Drug abuse affects the growth of their health, their educational progress and their brains leading them mostly to a state of hallucination and schizophrenia, and finally madness.

It also increases the country’s health bill as people affected by drugs end up at the health centres and hospitals across the country.

In such a situation the country continues to lose its healthy labour force and potential skilled workers to drug abuse. National productivity will continue to be on the wane and the economy of the nation suffers gravely as drug abuse and drug trafficking continue to take its toll on our people, especially the youth.

Substance abuse, it should be noted, is a disease which doesn’t go away overnight. We therefore have to work hard to overcome it.

So as a nation we should not take lightly the issue of drug abuse.  It aggravates poverty as poverty and joblessness ‘complements’ it.

“Drug addiction is not a choice of lifestyle, it is a disorder of the brain and we need to recognize this.”