Crystal methamphetamine epidemic in Africa

Posted on April 11, 2017 12:02 am

Africa has acquired the tag of being the paradise jurisdiction for methylamphetamine recreational use thanks to corruption among law enforcement agencies. According to an insider working on combating drug menace in East African coast, it is now accepted in security circles that it is impossible to stop the supply of methylamphetamine from the criminal gangs in South America and Asia.In a study he was involved, research found the number of people using ice well known as crystal methamphetamine in East Africa has more than doubled in just 18 months ending December 2016.The study used data from thousands of people, and its findings are mind tearing. It reveals crystal methamphetamine use increased by 200 per cent between 2015 June and 2016 December. The research also identified men aged between 20 and 25 as the most frequent users. The vulnerabilities of poor communities had contributed to the high figures. In East African coast, they tend to have higher levels of health problems in general, higher levels of mental health problems, higher levels of suicide, but what researchers didn’t really expect to see was a significantly higher level of crystal methamphetamine use.These are some of the things that contribute to it.In South African countries, people who used crystal methamphetamine in rural areas across South Africa and Namibia tended to be employed, whereas those who took the drug in cities like Pretoria, Cape Town were more often than not out of work.The findings showed the need for tailored strategies to support health services and workplaces in Africa. In South Africa’s rural areas, where there are not a lot of opportunities, there’s not as much to do and that’s where you’ll find people are habitually using.Back in 2014, methamphetamine wasn’t readily available in East African countries, which means there were less people using it because they weren’t buying it but that all changed since 2015 when market appetite peaked.

The data is talking about a very small proportion of people in any particular town or location, and that’s really important to remember. However, when your blogger did the calculation, its ranges between 20,000 – 25,000 addicts up from zero in less two years.In South Africa, drugs horse bolted years ago when rich, booming economy allowed it to become the preferred market of the international drug gangs especially from West African countries of Ghana and Nigeria.South Africa is the leader of drugs use in Africa, a national and international disgrace that has seen rainbow nation record some of the highest murder rates in the world.A document one South Africa’s drug strategy household survey, which revealed 9 per cent of people aged over 13 in South Africa reported using methamphetamine or Nyaope drug in the previous year. Of those users, the number taking it in South Africa in the form crystal or ice, which is usually the most pure form, rose from 17 per cent to 39.5 per cent, well above the country’s known comparisons. New data indicates the problem has got worse since then.Reliable information from South African crime researchers shows that the drug is being used by almost a tonne per annum.Data also indicate that South Africa can no longer stop the supply of the drug largely because of predatory importing of the drug by Asian criminal gangs and their South African affiliates. The damage now seems to have almost irreparably been done. The opportunities to do something about this were lost some years ago also because of corruption in security agencies.The study shows there are more than 900,000 regular and dependent methamphetamine users in Kenya and Tanzania alone. One of the study’s researchers, said that three years ago the number of users was about 5,000. The results were based on the number of people seeking treatment in Kenya and Tanzania alone, and when other factors were taken into account, the data reflected a jump in the use of the drug.

The researcher told your blogger that the most alarming finding was that the number of users in the 14 to 22 age group has more than doubled from about 8,000 regular and dependent users five years ago to 120,000 users now.The researcher’s concern with the 14 to 22-year-olds is that there is a clear indication this are new methamphetamine users in East Africa. The previous discussions have suggested that increasing use has been among existing users of the drug who are just using more.However, the data your blogger received suggests that there is a new, young population initiating methamphetamine use and developing regular and dependent use, and the harms associated with that.Researcher revealed to your truly that it was the first time increases across different age groups had been quantified in Kenya and Tanzania. Previously researchers have been relying on data from the household survey, which has been very good for telling about broad drug use trends especially in the coastal regions of Kenya and Tanzania.However, it didn’t really focus on regular and dependent and regular use, which is where the harms are occurring.The new data researchers have obtained quantified that increase and certainly suggest that what researchers are seeing in the household survey is underestimating regular and dependent use.One of the most important aspects to take away from the survey were the opportunities for early intervention to prevent the transition into regular and dependent drug use according to the researchers.As crackdown on drug mules and barons continues in Kenya and Tanzania, drug rehabilitation services mainly offered by non governmental organisations have also called for earlier intervention strategies to stop young people trying ice in the first place.In my view, the studies which I have read showed more work was needed.If African countries are going to prevent the kind of crisis that it is seeing with cocaine, heroin and marijuana, where African countries still have people who were teenagers in the 2000s still dependent on cocaine, heroin and marijuana, they need to intervene earlier.

Contador Harrison