Dr. Johannes Marisa, a medical practitioner, educationist, and public health expert, says he is concerned about the increasing number of young children, some as young as 10 years old, turning to drugs. He says the global issue of drug abuse has resulted in a significant loss of lives.

Marisa says there are over 190 million drug users worldwide, with the problem particularly affecting young adults below the age of 30. He quotes Roser (2018) who asserts that illicit drug use directly and indirectly causes over 750,000 deaths annually, including 166,000 deaths from drug overdoses. Opioids are identified as the primary cause of overdoses among illicit drugs. We present an extract from his article first published by the Standard:

"Contributors to drug abuse

So many reasons have been given for abusing drugs. Drugs of abuse are usually psychoactive that are used by people for treatment of various health problems.

Curiosity and peer pressure, especially among school children and young adults: Being asked to drink or smoke by friends is one of the strongest predictors of substance abuse in adolescents, even outweighing parenting styles or parental drinking behaviour.

Family dynamics: Maladaptive family dynamics can contribute to substance abuse. Unhealthy attachment styles and dysfunctional family roles can contribute immensely to drug abuse and your early relationships can have a long-lasting impact on your psyche and how you relate to others throughout your life.

Trauma: The link between trauma and substance abuse is strong. Types of trauma that can contribute to drug addiction include assault, rape, sexual abuse, natural disasters and witnessing traumatic events.

Substance use by caregivers: Growing up in an environment where there was heavy alcohol drinking or smoking can predict problem drinking later in life

Genetic factors: Studies done to show the link between genetics and addiction show heritability of the problem at 30-70%

Mental health: Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand in hand. About half of people with mental health disorders will have substance abuse in their lifestyle. Mental health issues can lead to drug abuse"

Drug Categories:

– Depressants: Cause depression of brain faculties (e.g., sleeping pills, heroin).

– Stimulants: Induce brain stimulation and increased activity (e.g., amphetamines, cocaine, nicotine).

– Hallucinogens: Cause hallucinations and dissociation (e.g., ecstasy, mescaline).

Effects of Drug Abuse:

– Transmissible Infections: High risk of viral transmission through needle sharing.

– Social Neglect: Drug abusers may face social neglect and increased suicide rates.

– Academic Decline: Drug abuse leads to school abandonment and decreased academic performance.

– Increased Accidents: Drug use by drivers contributes to accidents and loss of lives.

Measures to Address Drug Abuse:

– Counselling: Provide comprehensive counselling on the dangers of drug abuse.

– Engage Youth: Keep youth actively involved in tasks, activities, and sports.

– Talent Identification: Identify and nurture talents within the community to divert focus from drugs.

Dr. Marisa emphasizes the need for law enforcement to take action against drug suppliers with strong deterrent sentences. Drug abuse is causing harm to our communities, and it is alarming that drug suppliers are openly known and unpunished. We must unite against drug abuse as it negatively impacts the lives of our children. If your child’s behaviour has suddenly changed, be vigilant and suspicious of possible drug abuse. Together, we can combat this issue and protect our children’s well-being.

Dr Johannes Marisa can be reached at [email protected]