African countries drugs policies are clouded by prejudice and fear

October 6, 2014

African governments are concerned that drug abuse problems had commonly resulted from a breakdown in the family unit and is contributing immensely to increasing school drop out rates in sub saharan Africa.An unhappy and uncomfortable environment at home causes children and youths to be exposed to substance abuse problems.According to research, this is because the African children’s trust towards their parents is less compared to the influence of peers and driven by a high curiosity, it might cause them to be easily influenced by negative activities. Anti-Drug campaigns in the continent have only served to remind Africans of their role in fighting the threats and dangers of illicit drug use. Methods exhorted by various Governments and organisations involved in rehabilitation has included setting up counselling centers, spending of quality time between parents and children, respecting the opinions and feelings of the young and educating children on the harmful effects of drug abuse.Africa’s crackdown on drugs has been pointless and devastating and as yielded very little progress according to multiple studies conducted over the past five years.Every month, thousands of young Africans take drugs when they go partying, clubbing or sit around chilling with their friends. And every weekend, police and security operatives try to clamp down on that use of those drugs with time-consuming methods.While a handful of people might be caught by police, the vast majority will not. For those who are caught, the consequences can be devastating.

If convicted of possession and even sale of drugs, their career choices diminish immediately. And for law enforcement, weekend routine is a pointless exercise because it does nothing to reduce demand for drugs among young Africans. Drug addiction among teenagers in countries like South Africa, Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya is associated with other issues such as alcohol and sex addiction, leading to more complex social problems, including free sexual activities, vandalism and moral decay. A study by a South Africa University last year found that $234 million was spent by SADC region through direct and indirect costs to tackle problems relating to illicit drug use, including enforcement, rehabilitation, productivity loss and crime involving more than 50,000 drug addicts. In my opinion, if African countries are able to address the problem of drug abuse together, surely such costs could be used on other more important purposes to benefit all. In short, this is a policy mess which political leaders across the continent need to address now.It is no surprise to the likes of Contador Harrison who see drugs policies in Africa through rational rather than through vision that are shrouded by prejudice and fear, African countries which treat drugs usage as a criminal justice one, have more success in reducing drug overdoses, HIV and crime by seeing it through social lines.

Contador Harrison