Drugs and substance abuse on the rise

BG Reporter
Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Drugs and substance abuse on the rise

Police are worried that drugs still remain a problem among students despite their continuous public education campaigns, and efforts to curb this problem.

The Botswana Police Service (BPS) is now looking at taking their fight against illegal possession and use of drugs a notch higher, and using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, in the hope of reaching more youth.  This was revealed by Officer Commanding: Narcotics, Fauna & Flora, Senior Superintendent Musa Oteng in an interview with this publication this week. He revealed that in recent times they have recorded some worrying numbers where students were found in possession of drugs. In 2017, they recorded 14 cases involving 24 students. In 2018, the number increased to 22 cases involving 37 students. 

“We have observed that there are some adverts on these platforms talking about the benefits of using drugs such as Dagga hence we want to use them,” he explains.  The most commonly used drug by students at both Junior and Secondary schools, he says is Dagga. Other drugs that students use include CAT (Methcathinone), which is predominant amongst students at tertiary institutions as they have money to access it. In 2018, police recorded two cases of CAT. He explained that most of these numbers were recorded at Senior and Tertiary schools. The majority of the students start using drugs at Junior schools, and some as early as Primary schools.

“Dagga dominates especially at Junior and Senior schools,” he explained. Police use continuous public education campaigns to educate and sensitise students about the illegal use of drugs. In 2017, they reached out to 17 000 students at both Junior, Senior and Tertiary schools. The following year, they reached out to close to 21 000 students at these learning institutions. 

Concerning charges for those found in possession of drugs, he explained that they normally engage social workers for underage students, but those of legal age, can be charged for unlawful possession of drugs (less than 60 grams) which attracts either a fine of P20, 000 or jail sentence not exceeding three years, or both if the offender is a recidivist.  Media Coordinator of Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet), Wazha Dambe explained that the most commonly used substances are cigarettes, alcohol and dagga. Other substances include cough syrups, and hard drugs such as CAT, and Cocaine, as well as emerging drugs which are a mixture of drugs, and other creations such as ARV’s, and Faeces. “This is why we are saying that this is a growing problem,” he said. 

He said on average they get 20 plus clients in a month seeking their many services that include specialised counselling to individuals and families dealing with issues related to substance abuse and dependency. But the numbers vary according to periods of the year.  For example, they have a lot of clients coming through in January seeking help for issues such as health or finances. 

Quizzed on whether he was aware about a new drug that allegedly trades under the name Snow, he said that it could just be a name given to a drug that was already available in the market, or that it could have been an old drug or a new mixture, and is trading under a new name. Snow, allegedly is a mixture of a number of drugs. “The drug names also differ according to location,” he explained. He said that they also offer counselling services on a one on one basis, family sessions, as well as parent support groups.

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