We all have or know someone who has said this line before;


‘I can take a crate of nilo and still walk straight.’ or ‘I have access to the best weed in town you guys.’ or ‘If it is not high grade, then I do not want it.’ 


To many young people, these are statements we say with pride because among our peers, this is cool, this is dope, this is the cool way.


We have witnessed drugs ruin so many lives, of persons both close to us or those we see in our communities; celebrities, students and more. The trouble in this is how we have grown to treat the issue of drug abuse with disregard and some of us have come to pride in it. 


But you see these dope statements and ‘cool way’? This is how we are losing a large percentage of the would have been productive young men and women of this nation. We are losing them to drug addiction and dependence, to substance abuse, to the bottle, sniffing and smoking and just like many things, substance abuse starts small. ‘I only smoke over the weekend’ easily turns into ‘I cannot work unless I have smoked a joint’. 


Of all people admitted in different rehabilitation centres in Uganda, 68% are there for the commonest substance that many of us forget to regard with importance: Alcohol. Alcohol is one of the substances that one can easily get addicted to and is readily accessible with barely any limitations. One can buy and take as much of it as they want and at any time. 

Aside from alcohol, other drugs abused are nicotine, jet fuel, khat, cannabis, cocaine, among many others.


What is drug abuse? 

Scientifically, Drug abuse is defined as the excessive use of psychoactive drugs such as alcohol, pain medications or illegal substances which can result in physical, social and emotional harm. The main reason as to why people use these substances is to create pleasure effects on the brain. This pleasure effect is what many users refer to as the ‘height’. 


How does one know they are dependent? 


Needing more. 

The easiest sign of addiction is needing more of the substance to achieve a similar effect. This is what is termed as tolerance. We often hear people say, ‘One bottle no longer hits me, I need to take about 5 to get tipsy.’ This is a sign to step back if one still can. 


Strange feeling when the drug wears off. 

If when the height passes you get shaky, sick to the stomach, depressed, sweaty or experience headaches, these are signs of the body’s dependence. In severe cases, these can become as bad as seizures and fever. 


Cannot stop oneself from using the drug.

If no matter how hard you try, you cannot keep from using the drug, then you are obviously dependent and addicted. 


Lose caution and ability to perform simple tasks. 

If under the influence you lose the ability to to carry out easy tasks like doing dishes or even walking straight or feel the urge to do very risky activities that can cause irreversible damage to the person. 


You have a new set of ‘drug’ friends. 

If you abandon all your old friends and make a new set of friends with whom the sole purpose is to meet up to do drugs at certain locations, then you are likely addicted. 


How does one overcome addiction? 

  1. The first step to recovery is recognising that you have a problem. Acceptance is a great step towards healing as it pushes you to want a solution. It leads to the decision to want to change. 

  2. Prepare for change.
    This involves reminding oneself of the importance of the change to your life, analysing past attempts, setting goals, doing away with reminders of drug use and seeking support from friends or family. 

  3. Exploring the available options of treatment.There are quite a number of available options for treatment such as; detoxification, behavioral counselling and medication. 

  4. Learning new ways to deal with the same issues that led to addiction such as stress and other challenges in life. These options will let you handle problems without resulting in drug use. 


Remember that key to healing from drug abuse is desiring change, working towards it and creating a support system of family and friends that can be your pillar towards sobriety. You can overcome it. 


Should you need someone to talk to, remember that our SAUTIplus Ssenga is here for you. Speak to someone that understands your situation and can ably help you. 


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