General News of Sunday, 18 March 2018
About 50, 000 people in Ghana abuse substances out of which 70 percent of them result in mental illness, Madam Rebekah Awuah, President of the Rebekah Awuah Foundation has announced.
“Ghana, like many other countries, is facing a growing substance abuse problem, though there may be some disparities in the scope of the problem. Sadly, this has stretched to include the youth. It is reported that about 50,000 people in Ghana abuse substances and 70 per cent of these result in mental illness. “
She said per the Narcotics Control Board Statistics, youth in Junior, Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions in Ghana made up the majority of the drug user community and research from Psychiatric hospitals in Ghana showed that about 70 per cent of inmates in those hospitals were youth from Junior, Senior high schools and tertiary institutions.
Madam Rebekah Awuah disclosed this at the Foundation’s first Youth Empowerment, Development and sensitisation forum for students of the Accra High school in Accra.
She doubles as an Multiple Award winning Broadcast Journalist and a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow.
Dubbed : “Alcohol and Drug Abuse – A National ticking Bomb”, Madam Awuah indicated “four out of five students drink alcohol, making it the most popular and dangerous drug on campuses by far, adding that, tobacco, illicit drug and alcohol use are among the most common substances held responsible for considerable mortality and morbidity rates especially among adolescents and young adults”.
She said it was in light of this worrying trend, that RAF Ghana sought to build the capacity and increase the level of youth awareness on how to engage their institutions to develop effective campus-based strategies to deal with the menace.
Madam Awuah noted “it is high time we disabused the minds of college administrators, educators, trustees, alumni, parents and young people, that Alcohol and Drug abuse is some harmless rite of passage, and instead, see it for what it truly is: a dangerous game that threatens our nation and wasting the country’s best and brightest”.
She said RAF envisioned a world in which all people could achieve their potential and would work with a global network of partners to advance a shared vision of progress by investing in people and societies.
Madam Awuah, therefore called for extensive partnership and new resources to enable the Rebekah Awuah Foundation-(RAF Ghana), embark on an intensified outreach programme for students and teachers in various educational institutions on the negative effects of substance abuse.
Mr Jackson Seyram Avotri, a professionally trained nurse and a Mental Health advocate mentioned that, the high rates of drug abuse among the youth could be attributed to a number of factors, including; stress, course load, curiosity, peer pressure among others.
He advised students not to be swayed by peers to try alcohol as the body did not need additional alcohol in view of the fact that some meals consumed were converted to the alcohol required by the human system.
A 65 –year-old, George Odonkor, a former drug addict for 26 years, now an advocate, shared his life story with students and advised the youth to shun the practice before it landed their “dreams into drains”.
At the end of the programme, participants became committed to series of actions including; raising awareness on the use of substances, with 10 students opting to be volunteers to assist the Foundation to facilitate activities in schools, while 10 others requested to be connected to mentors, out of which three have requested the Foundation to support them through school.
The highly successful Youth Empowerment, Development and Sensitisation Forum, was the first, organised by the Rebekah Awuah Foundation, a not-for-Profit venture that trains young people in a responsible manner to be Africa’s Leaders of Tomorrow.
Focused on Education, Skills development, health and Well-being, the foundation assists orphaned but needy youth, widows and the aged.