44% Of Urban Children In Schools Abusing Drugs — Study
By Sarah Achen
Dr Hasfa Lukwata the acting in-charge for mental health section at Ministry of Health says children are getting addicted to technology and drug abuse is becoming a problem.
“The Ministry is to put in place a regulation on technology to curb addiction. Abusing drugs and engaging in gambling are on the rise among children because they are addictive.
Lukwata made this remark during the 2017 Recovery walk while flagging off a team of walkers at Kamwokya field behind café Javas on Saturday.
She explains that many families are battling with addiction problem but are hesitant to talk about it.
“Addiction is real, we need to focus on prevention in substance abuse and handle it well. 44% of age going children are using certain kind of tobacco for example cigarettes and more than 60% have at least tested alcohol.”
Lukwata adds that ministry of health will continue educating people about the dangers of addiction and inform Ugandans that they can live a normal life without drugs. 30% of adults are addicted to alcohol and 10% tobacco. Up to 25% of young people are using hard drugs since it’s illegal in schools.
She explains that the environment in which a child is raised is what will determine who they become.
Pamela Agatha Kitonsa who was also an addict says that she had a problem and doctors gave her a drug to relieve pain. She got used to it and on returning home, she started abusing it and ended up losing her job, got diseases, family members shunned her and even lost marriage.
“Having everything I had, I decided to go to a rehab and prayed but what I want to say is that addiction is a disease and if you have it you have to seek help immediately before the consequences,” Kitonsa says. Today she is living a full life free of drugs and wanted to be part of this walk to others with the same problem.
Kitonsa may be an adult who is living free from drugs but sadly there is an increase of children abusing drugs such as tobacco and substance abuse.
Albert Elwa chairman of Recovery Coalition and director of Focus on recovery – Uganda says that addiction is a disease and the only solution is to stay away from it. Addiction is like falling in a deep hole.
The purpose of the Recovery walk was to raise awareness to the public that the rate at which people especially the youth are getting addicted to drugs is increasing and something has to be done to save the young generation before it’s too late.
“We appeal to government to introduce addiction as a syllabus in schools so as to inculcate the message about the dangers of engaging in drug abuse and help them make decisions to stay away from it,” Elwa said.
Elwa says that as a former addict, leaving it is not easy and this is the reason we want to save the young generation because the experience was a nasty one.
Why the rise?
People want to cope with everything and yet some things are not good for them. For example, habits like engaging in risky lifestyle like drug abuse, domestic violence, gambling among others can ruin our life or what we have.
She attributes poverty as another cause of drug abuse. In schools 25% of children especially in Kampala are abusing all sorts of drugs, one in five children are using alcohol, tobacco, internet because majority of them are on whatsApp, others go an extent of stealing money from their parents to buy data to watch unacceptable images.
Richard Baguma the coordinator of Uganda Health Communication Alliance further says that there are many people who are in prison of addiction such as tobacco, alcohol, drugs, betting and gambling, social media and sex.
Getting addicted affects everybody and is a loss as one would have spent enough time doing productive work.