Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The problem of hard drugs should be confronted

It is now common knowledge that the use of hard drugs has permeated the entire structure of our society.
Not so long ago, Botswana was almost drug free.

Except for a few individuals, who would have come from drug infested countries, especially in the West, for many Batswana hard drugs were unheard of.
That is of now history.
Hard drugs have become a part of our daily lives.

It is depressing to see young people with a promising future being reduced to tottering wrecks all because they are not able to resist the temptation to use drugs.

All forms of drugs have now found a niche market in Botswana.

It is a hard truth that the market goes as far down as primary schools.
Those who know the effects of drugs on an individual would attest to the fact that not only do the substances form a dependence on the consumer, they more often than not fast-track a process of turning the body into a wreck.
While starting the use of drugs is very easy, withdrawal is by far the hardest part.

Botswana currently does not have facilities that help drug victims who want to quit.

Experience shows that coping with the difficult side effects of habit forming drugs is itself a costly and sometimes insurmountable task.

Because the victims cannot live for a minute without use, they also lead to such ills as theft because once the victim does not have the money to feed their habit they have to devise any other means to get it.

As we all know, Botswana is currently battling against the debilitating effects of HIV/AIDS.
Many of our social support systems have since collapsed.

There are thousands and thousands of orphans who grow up without the benefit of parental guidance.
These are the most vulnerable people who easily get pounced on by drug lords who are forever eager to create a market for their produce.

For those reasons Botswana is in a terribly unique situation.
It being a new phenomenon, as a people we are not well prepared to deal with it.

We do not think this problem can be solved by law enforcement agencies.
The truth of the matter though is that unless drug use is forcefully countered at these early stages, we are headed for a situation where it will morphe into a vast and intricate problem that will be much more difficult to overcome.
We call on all the relevant authorities to treat this problem as a national crisis.

Of course, penalties against people who sell drugs will have to be tightened much more stiffly.
Support systems for those who want to kick the habits will have to be put in place.

Unfortunately, the country now is stretched when it comes to resources.
But experience shows that drugs thrive most when there is poverty and lawlessness.

While we remain hopeful that our intelligence services will be up to the task of collecting information on who is peddling these killer drugs, parents will also have to play their role in ensuring that they guide their children during these difficult times.
We remain supportive of all efforts by government to rid Botswana of hard drugs.

Foreign national found to be engaged in the trade should be deported with immediate effect.

Citizens assisting such people should be made to pay with the harshest and most humiliating of penalties.
Botswana is currently engaged against a costly war of HIV/AIDS.
We cannot, as a country, afford another war front.
These are desperate times that call for desperate measures.

That said, we call on government to strengthen the police unit that deal with the use of drugs.
More training and resourcing will be paramount if we are to stem this problem in its early days.
And then, of course, there has to be education.

Young people need to be taught at an early age that drugs will ruin their lives.

Pretending, as parents, that there is nothing wrong when there is so clearly a big problem on our hands, would be akin to complicity.

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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.