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The Impact of Drug Abuse on Youths Behavior in Cameroon. Case study Youths of Bamenda 1

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Looking at the topic of focus “The Impacts of drug abuse on youth’s behavior in Cameroon: case study Youths of Bamenda 1”, the continuous excess intake of drugs in Cameroon has been a “slap on the face” as many youths continue to get engaged in the consumption of drugs. Purposely stressing on the main objectives to identify the impacts of these drugs (alcohol, cigarette and cocaine) on the behavior of youths, analyzing the data collected on tables and charts with the use of questionnaires, has however proven that, there have been a massive increase in the negative behavior of youths in Bamenda as a result of the drug abuse. We made use of questionnaire of 100 respondents and use quantitative design to analyze the data. The use of theory to bring the meaning of the work was in big use throughout the work



1.1. Background to the Study

The negative impact of drugs always came as a result of drug abuse. Drugs abuse is the general term that is use to describe the excessive and habitual use of narcotic substances such as alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco. Drug abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Some of the key impacts of illicit drug use on society is the negative health consequences experienced by its members and, on the individual, there is loss of physical and emotional control which renders the person into a state of intoxication.

Drug use also puts a heavy financial burden on individuals, families and societies. The evolution of the complex global illicit drug problem is clearly driven by a range of factors. Sociodemographic trends are influential such as; population, gender, age and the rate of urbanization.

The history of drug abuse and it impacts can be date as far back as the Greeks and Romans history. They were known to have been very fond of wine and used it often during their celebrations, religious gatherings, and other social events. Alcohol was often used as an offering to their gods in religious rituals. Consulting the oracles was also common during that period. The oracles of ancient Greece and Rome were women, believed to be chosen by the gods to relay messages and prophecies from the spiritual realm. Oftentimes, these women would use mind-altering drugs like mushrooms and marijuana in their practices. (NCBI- Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic ChinaNG- Earliest Known Winery Found in Armenian Cave). However, the effects of these substances were just as dangerous back then as they are now.

The consumption of drugs and its impact has plagued the American continent since the 1800s, when morphine, heroin and cocaine were hailed for their amazing curative properties. By the mid-20th century however, illicit drug use was all but eradicated in the United State through focused national and global suppression of the industry. All that changed in the 1960s when many new and exotic drugs, such as hallucinogens, amphetamines and marijuana became more readily available. (American Addiction Center). In the United State, the most commonly abused substances include: Cannabis, Cocaine, Mushrooms, Marijuana, Ketamine, Tobacco, LSD, Ecstasy, Peyote, Methamphetamine, Prescription Opioids, Stimulants and Nicotine. These substances were all either manufactured in this country, or made their way there as a result of trading, war, or immigration.

In Europe, an increasing abuse of drugs among young people emerged in Northwestern Europe during the late 1960s, and early 1970s. Since the mid-1970s, the two most important trend have been the substantial increase in heroin abuse in most countries and increasing drug abuse in Southern and Eastern European countries that had relatively little previous experience with illicit drugs use. (Hartnoll RL, 1986)

In South East Asia, Opium has traditionally been used for treating illnesses and alleviating physical and mental stress as well as recreational and mental purposes. In Burma, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand there was the prohibition on the sale of opium and it forced many habitual opium users to switch to heroin. Over the past two decades, there has been an increasing trend towards drug use, often involving experimentation with more than one substance, among youths in and out of school. During the 1970s, the abused of heroin and other opiates was a serious problem of epidemic nature, predominantly affecting young people in many South-Eastern Asian countries. While these drugs have been abused by inhaling and smoking, there has been an increasing trend towards injecting heroin of high purity and has spread further in Asia, both socially and geographically including countries such as India and Sri Lanka which had no previous experience with the problem. (C Suwanwela et al, 1986)

The World Health Organization had pointed out that, the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year. On average, every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per year. Less than half the population (38.3%) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who drink, consume an average 17 liters of pure alcohol annually. At least 15.3 million persons have drug use disorders. And injecting drug use, reported in 148 countries of which 120 report HIV infection among this population.

In Africa, according to Asuni T et al (Jan-Jun 1986), apart from cannabis in Northern and Southern Africa and khat chewing in North Earthen Africa, the history of drug abuse in Africa is relatively short. The abuse of drugs in Africa is escalating rapidly from cannabis abuse to the more dangerous drugs and from limited groups of drug users to a wider range of people abusing drugs. The most common and available drug abuse is still cannabis, which is known to be a contributing factor to so many negative occurrences. The trafficking in and the abuse of cocaine, tobacco and heroin are the most recent developments in some African countries that have had no previous experience with these drugs. (Asuni T et al,1986).

However, the parameters of the continent’s involvement in the production, sale and consumption of (illicit) drugs have been subject to a number of notable changes since ROAPE’s first special issue on the topic.  National policing bodies such as Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have expanded their capacity, often with the assistance of external donors. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has opened offices in Lagos, Accra, Nairobi and Pretoria, and actively seeks to collaborate with local authorities. A multinational maritime task force is now policing the Indian Ocean and making record seizures, such as the more than 1.5 tons of heroin intercepted off the coast of Kenya and Tanzania in 2015 alone (CMF 2015a, 2015b). As a result, trafficking routes have evolved to evade intensifying policing. Thus, despite the efforts to curb the production and consumption of these drugs, the consumption pattern in the continent still continue changing drastically. New drugs such as methamphetamines are produced and sold in a number of African countries. (Mark 2013).

It is very likely that the drug problem in Africa countries will worsen in the future unless more effective measures are implemented to arrest the current situation. Asuni T et al (1986). Today drug consumption, trade and production in Africa is the subject of a special commission headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and discussed by media and policymakers in almost every African country (WACD 2014).

Personal observation has shown that one cannot talk of drug abuse and its impacts in Africa without making mention of Cameroon. Cameroon is not only being used as a transit country for drugs traffickers, but also a drug consuming country. The drug consumers being both males and females from all age groups. The drugs consumed ranged from traditional to imported drugs such as cocaine, tobacco and heroin. Cannabis also holds the most frequently consumed drug, followed by amphetamine-type tablets and a broad range of pharmaceuticals. Solvents also being consumed by street children in Northern Cameroon while local beer and gin also have special place in societies. (E Wansi et al, 1966)

In August 2018, the Cameroon’s Anti-Drug National Committee (CNLD) released statistics on drugs consumption in Cameroon. The figures showed that 21% of the population have already tried a hard drug. 10% are already consuming including 60% of young people age 20-25. The record also shows that the most demanded drugs include cannabis with 58.54% which is often associated with tobacco, tramadol 44,62% and cocaine 12.10%. traditional makeshift preparations which accounts for 7.59%, solvents 7.36% and heroin 5,70 %. CNLD went further to say that more than 12,000 young people under the age of 15 are also consuming narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. CNLD has mentioned that “Cameroon, once considered by the United Nation as a transit country, is currently a country of destination for drugs, with regards to numerous seizures of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and psychotropic drugs registered in recent years,”

Alcohol, cigarette and cocaine being the main focus of this study, are the most widely consumed drugs among youths in Cameroon with Bamenda inclusive. Alcohol for instance, is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties that has been widely used in many cultures for centuries. The harmful use of alcohol has caused a large disease, social and economic burden in societies. Despite it impacts, it is still the most widely consumed during events such as funerals, birthday parties, weddings, and even on daily bases. For instance, research from the Southeastern part of Cameroon shows that 48% of men, 24% of women and 11% of children between five and sixteen years old reported alcohol intake in the past 24 hours. (Sandrine Gallois et al, May 2021).

The harmful use of alcohol, cigarette and cocaine have had a great impact and has caused so many diseases and injury conditions in individuals, most notably alcohol and cigarette dependence, liver cirrhosis, cancers, brain damage, injuries, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, conflicts, accidents, trauma, and even death. However, with all the above stated effects, this study will be focusing on the impact of drug abuse on youth’s behavior in Cameroon with the case of Bamenda.

1.2. Statement of Problem

Drug abuse and its impact is a concept that has been built over time. Today it has become a major issue of concern to institutions like the United Nation. And to this, Cameroon has been able to rectify many treaties that concerns the fight against the cultivation, marketing, trafficking, possession and consumption of drugs and psychotropic substances which have had a great impact on the Cameroonian population, with a large percent being the youths. These treaties include; The Single Convention on Narcotic in Drugs of 1961 and was ratified in 1962, The Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971 ratified in 1981, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics Drugs 1988 and rectified in 1991. In 2011, Cameroon signed a bilateral agreement with Spain which covers collaboration and sharing of materials and information on the trafficking of drugs. In 2018, the government through the minister of communication announced the different measures put in place by the government to fight against illicit drug consumption in Cameroon.

Yes, the state of Cameroon has been able to put in place measures and institutions like the ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education to ensure the well-being of youths. However, despite all these efforts, there is still a missing gap, which is the lack of effective implementation of these measures and the weak existence of these institutions that have been put in place. Hence, this research is necessary because it is to shed more light on those issues that are hindering the wellbeing and the effective protection of Cameroonian youths from drug consumption. This research is to call the attention of the Cameroon government to put in more efforts in ensuring the wellbeing of youths. If we do not effectively build back these institutions and reaffirm the measures put in place, youths will continually be in the cycle of drug abuse which will be more disastrous to their behavior and wellbeing. That is why this research is important.

1.3. Research Questions

  1. What are the effects of alcohol on youth’s behavior in Bamenda?
  2. How has the use of cigarette influence youth’s behavior in Bamenda?
  3. How has cocaine affected youth’s behavior in Bamenda?
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