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Drugs are destroying our society

Publishing Date : 07 August, 2017

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The illicit use of habit forming drugs is on the rise. It is evident from the testimonies of the police and other organisations that deal with people who have experienced drug related problems that the situation is getting out of control and something must be done to protect the future of our children.

We learn from an article that appears elsewhere in this publication that the problem of drugs permeating into Botswana through ungazetted points and at our border areas is a very sophisticated one. We are of the view that government's priority at this juncture should be to suppress the drug problem in the country by the manufacturers, traffickers and peddlers of illegal drugs being put behind bars and by transforming drug users into productive members of society. Government should seek, among others balanced and integrated approaches of supply and demand reduction strategies through the relevant authorities.

It is paining to realise that primary school and secondary school going children are now the middlemen and women for this dirty business. To protect these innocent souls we must come up with strict laws and those laws must be applied consistently. We call for thorough enforcement; Justice; Advocacy; and Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

We must employ strict rules at the points of entry with neighbouring countries and equip those tasked with safe guarding our borders.  It is imperative to ensure the effective conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and arrest of high value drug personalities down to the street level peddlers and users – this must be seen to be done because the more we expose the real culprits and take action against them, the likelihood of getting the impact we desire.

The Botswana police Service through the Narcotic squad is already seized with the task of fighting the drug problem, but are they well-resourced to deal with the sophisticated peddlers? There is need to spearhead and coordinate the implementation of a national anti-drug plan. We must ensure that the roles and responsibilities of the agencies takin part in this campaign are efficiently and effectively carried out. The bureaucracy of unscrupulous personnel involved in illegal drug activities must be dealt with if the campaign is to be successful.

Also fundamental in the fight against drugs is to ensure that there is an intensive conduct of advocacy campaign initiatives. We must rope in personalities who have shown genuine concern against drugs and use them as the face of the campaign. To accelerate efforts against illegal drugs in communities and to promote involvement of local people in the suppression of drug trafficking and abuse, we must also create anti-drug abuse committees styled in the model of Village Development Committees of Crime Prevention Units.

There is no doubt that the negative consequences of drug abuse affect not only individuals who abuse drugs but also their families and friends, various businesses, and government resources. We know that the most obvious effects of drug abuse which are manifested in the individuals who abuse drugs include ill health, sickness and, ultimately, death. We must drive these messages home especially among school going children who are easy targets for drug peddlers.

Botswana is battling with high HIV transmission rate. A correlation has been established between the abuse of drugs and the increase in the rate of HIV/AIDS. Habit forming drugs alter an individual conduct and this could lead to induced social life.  We are aware of individuals who inject these illicit drugs and end up sharing needles, as an example, this has the potential to contribute to the spread of HIV.

Studies have shown that children of individuals who abuse drugs often are abused or neglected as a result of the individuals' preoccupation with drugs. National-level studies have shown that parents who abuse drugs often put their need to obtain and abuse drugs before the health and welfare of their children. Therefore we must act against drugs before it is too late. We could be losing an entire generation because of drugs.

It is widely shared that the economic impact of drug abuse on businesses whose employees abuse drugs can be significant. While many drug abusers are unable to attain or hold full-time employment, those who do work put others at risk, particularly when employed in positions where even a minor degree of impairment could be catastrophic. The economic consequences of drug abuse severely burden the government and, ultimately, the taxpayer.



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