Thursday, August 12, 2010

Smoking Away The Dream


There’s an area off my neighbourhood, a couple of streets away and actually a neighbourhood on its own, where the air is, from dusk to dawn, marked with a very distinctive smell. This neighbourhood, situated on the route to the local market, is a less developed and less civil one; there the poverty is visible and the norms of society are not so normal, if you get my meaning. There’s filth on the streets, the buildings are wooden and uncompleted and scattered in all directions(taking the wrong turn could land you in the middle of someone’s open-house bathroom), and the people are illiterate or with very little education.

But worse than any of these above-mentioned cankers, is the ever-present and growing situation of drug abuse(weed-smoking and the like), among the young people of the neighbourhood; a situation represented by this constant, distinctive smell in the air. Walk through the neighbourhood any day and you’re bound to twist your nose and sight a bunch of young men, and in some cases women, huddled together in any of the many bushes in the area revelling in an orgy of weed-smoking. Young, vibrant people both educated and uneducated, and unemployed to boot, wasting away their energy and time on stuff that ultimately ends them half-naked, bushy-haired and exhibiting crazy in the street, or locked up and confined in a psych-ward if they’re at all lucky, or behind bars if their not so lucky. And yet they don’t even seem to realise what they’re doing to themselves.

I have a personal attachment to this blog post, a little backstory unfortunately, serving as motivation. The consequences of having a family member hooked on drugs of any kind is not lost to me. I have a brother who has been addicted to marijuana for many years now. He began when he was in Junior High School, just like many others who get addicted. Peer pressure, you know how it is. A little cigarette here and there, passed around during afternoon break. Teenagers trying to be cool, ironically. Then from cigarettes to marijuana to heroine etc. Well, he got hooked; and as much we’ve tried to wean him off the addiction, it seems he’s knee-deep in it. And that’s the case for many young people today. My father, who is a pastor, came back from an excursion to the psychiatric hospital in Accra a little while ago with harrowing, heartbreaking stories of young men and women dotting every space of the hospital ground, bereft of their senses. Young people mostly Senior High School leavers, with or without a choice to further their education, decided on a moral downturn somewhere along the way, seems to be the tale of the tape.

And as pervasive and dangerous as the situation already is, it seems only to be growing. The recent spate of drug trafficking especially in the corridors of this part of Africa, raises serious concerns that needs to be addressed sooner than later. Our young people are already suffering from the calamities of addictions to drugs like marijuana, the last thing we need is an overdose of cocaine inflow in the country to add salt to wound. The government and the security services must take measures to ensure this development is halted before we become an African Mexico.

And to young people, here’s a piece of advice: nothing good comes out of trying to impress your peers who push you try out a sniff. Once you get addicted to get any kind of drug, God help you if think you can get off it easily.