Monday, July 22, 2024

Uniting Against Drug Abuse: A Call to Action for a Resilient Gambia

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By: Amadou Bah

In recent years, the Gambia has been facing a growing crisis that threatens the very structure of its society: drug abuse. This deceptive problem, once confined to the shadows, has now emerged as a formidable rival, claiming the lives of our youth and sowing seeds of discord within our communities.

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As a Gambian deeply concerned about the welfare of our nation, I cannot help but sound the alarm on this pressing issue and urge concerted efforts to combat it.

The Rise of Drug Abuse in the Gambia

Drug abuse in the Gambia is not a new phenomenon, but its escalation in recent years is cause for grave concern. The spread of substances like Kush, locally known as Gina Bass, has reached alarming levels, posing significant health risks to those who fall victim to its allure. What makes this situation even more distressing is the inclusion of potentially lethal chemicals and even rumors of human bones in the preparation of these drugs, underscoring the dire need for intervention.

The Impact on Our Youth

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Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the drug abuse crisis is its devastating impact on our youth. Addiction knows no bounds, ensnaring adolescents as young as 13 or 14 years old. Instead of pursuing their education and building a brighter future, many of these young individuals find themselves drawn into a world of substance misuse, robbing them of their potential and dimming the prospects of our nation.

Root Causes of the Problem

To effectively address the stain of drug abuse, it is essential to understand its underlying causes. Peer influence, easy accessibility, unemployment, and a lack of parental supervision have been identified as key drivers of this epidemic. In a society where smoking is often viewed as a sign of maturity and where drug dealers wait on street corners, it is no wonder that our youth are drawn into this perilous lifestyle.

Furthermore, the Gambia’s status as a transit country for drug trafficking only exacerbates the problem, fueling demand and facilitating the flow of narcotics into our communities.

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The recent seizure of a significant quantity of cocaine underscores the gravity of this issue and the urgent need for action.

Empirical Evidence

A comprehensive survey conducted in the capital city sheds light on public perceptions regarding drug abuse and its consequences.

The findings reveal a widespread belief that lack of parental control, easy accessibility, peer pressure, and unemployment are significant contributing factors to the problem.

Moreover, there is a consensus that law enforcement agencies, families, the media, religious organizations, and the public at large all have a role to play in addressing this crisis.

However, there is also a prevailing sense of dissatisfaction with the media’s role in combating drug abuse. While some acknowledge its efforts in raising awareness, many feel that more proactive measures are needed to tackle the issue effectively.

According to research I conducted in the capital city involving 31,301 people, a survey was used, and 125 questionnaires were administered to examine people’s perceptions. Forty-nine of them believed that lack of parental control was the main cause of drug abuse; 26 of them recorded easy accessibility and affordability as another cause of drug abuse; 34 of them believe peer influence is one of the causes of drug abuse; and 34 of them think that unemployment is also a cause of drug abuse.

WHO SHOULD HELP VICTIMS STOP THE PRACTICE OF DRUG ABUSE?

Out of the 125 respondents, 67 of them believe that law enforcement agents have a huge role to play; 24 of them think that the family can help the victims stop the practice; 21 of them consider the media to sensitize the victims in order to stop the practice; 7 of them mentioned religious organizations; and 7 of them supported the public.

Is the media playing its role in the fight against drug abuse?

Twenty of the respondents strongly believe that the media is doing its job in the fight; 37 of them agree that the media is playing its role in the fight; 48 of them, which is the majority, are against the notion that the media is helping in the fight; and 20 of them completely disagree.

An interview was also conducted, and here is what the interviewee had to say.

“It’s sad; sometimes I feel like crying. During our early ages, we used to be involved in productive things that could benefit us, but nowadays, the kids of today are getting destroyed due to drugs. For instance, Banjul used to be a crime-free city. We were all united by a common goal. Now, all these kids do is get themselves involved in hard drug fighting and killing. For instance, there was a day I was going to work and I saw a kid less than 14 smoking. I nearly cried because these kids are the future of tomorrow. To be honest, I am really scared of the future,” a concerned Gambian stated.

The Call to Action

In light of these findings, it is evident that a multifaceted approach is required to combat drug abuse in the Gambia.

Strengthening media programming, fostering community engagement, implementing early intervention and education programs, supporting families, expanding treatment and rehabilitation services, and adopting data-driven strategies are all essential components of a comprehensive solution.

Furthermore, it is imperative that we recognize the power of collective action in addressing this crisis.

By uniting as a society and mobilizing resources across all sectors, we can confront drug abuse head-on and pave the way for a brighter, drug-free future for our nation.

In Conclusion

The fight against drug abuse in the Gambia is a battle that we cannot afford to lose.

It is a fight for the future of our youth, our communities, and our nation as a whole. By coming together, pooling our resources, and committing ourselves to meaningful action, we can turn the tide against this epidemic and build a society where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

Let us stand united in our resolve to combat drug abuse and create a better tomorrow for generations to come.

In the battle against substance abuse, the power of ‘we’ far outweighs the limitations of ‘I.’ Together, we can mend the broken paths and heal the wounds of addiction, making a brighter, drug-free future for all.

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