Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Drug use in schools. The new challenge on African governments.

Robin Williams once said “kid… if you need booze or drugs to enjoy your life to the fullest, then you are doing it wrong.” Many students in Africa today believe that the main requirement to look cool and be in the spotlight in their school milieu or at students’ social gatherings, is to consume or traffic drugs. This is a major challenge to many African governments, as many schools have become a growing market for drug trafficking and abuse.

Drug (substance) use, alcohol consumption and prostitution is the new trend among students in Africa today, especially those in high schools and the universities. The world health organisation defines drug or substance use (abuse) as the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances. Drug use leads to dependence syndrome- a cognitive, behavioural and psychological phenomena that make users want more drugs. This is the main cause of drug addiction in youths because they find it difficult to stop using after their first “high”.

Despite all the measures put in place by most African governments to eradicate drug use and trafficking in their schools, students still find a way around to get the drugs they need to get “high”. Most African countries have banned illicit drugs like cocaine, cannabis, and heroin. As a results the traffickers who are able to smuggle these drugs into schools, sell them at very high prices. Many students who are unable to afford these drugs have turned to other “do it yourself” drugs, concoctions and other cheaper synthetic opioids brought in from China and India, making it difficult for the government to track and control or prevent its use.

Tramadol, a pain killer drug, is the trending drug in most African cities today, and is consumed by most drug users; both young and old. Also, Codeine, found in cough syrups is another cheap and readily available drug for many students. Some drug dealers mix these drugs, especially the cough syrup with soft drinks, making them unnoticeable, and sell to students within and around school premises. Other students mix tramadol with alcohol, in order to make the drug more potent.

Some creative students (drug addicts) turn to several crude options, such as sniffing glue, petrol and smoking “garri”, known to possess the same psychoactive qualities as cocaine. Though most school administrations organise random searches and drug tests in schools, they still are unable to curb the use of drugs within the school milieu because these searches and tests are not as frequent as they should be, and some students have hideouts where they meet during lunch break or after school.

Though drugs are combined differently in different countries, the effects are always the same. African governments are struggling to find a cure to both the cause and the epidemic of drug abuse in schools and the country at large. Few have built rehabilitation centers coordinated public health responses, for those with mental disorders and other traumas due to drug consumption, and also to counsel students against drug consumption and addiction.


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