Substance Abuse among the Youth of Northern Region: The Realities of Our Time

Author(s): Peter Mintir Amadu, Rejoice Enyonam Hoedoafia, Vivian Kapio Abem, Nicholas Danzima Yakubu, Mohammed Imoro, Abass Mohammed Sherif, Abdul Rahaman Abdul Razak.

Background: The scourge of drug usage among young people in Ghana has emerged as a significant impediment to the country's sustainable growth. Substance misuse poses a severe challenge, particularly in underdeveloped nations like Ghana, acting as a catalyst for economic woes and exerting a profound impact on the socioeconomic, public health, social, and individual facets of the nation. The alarming rise in the consumption of substances such as shisha, tramadol, alcohol, cannabis, wee (marijuana), as well as the inhalation of glue and other harmful drugs, is becoming a growing concern in northern region of Ghana and Ghana as whole with negative consequences on the world and the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and universal health coverage (UHC).

Objective: This study endeavours to gauge the prevalence of adolescent drug abuse, aiming to offer a comprehensive understanding of the issue and subsequently inform the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies within the Northern Region of Ghana.

Methodology: A cross-sectional study design was used. The research employed a meticulously crafted questionnaire featuring both open and closed-ended questions. The incorporation of open-ended questions provided participants with an avenue to articulate their perspectives.

Findings/Results: The findings indicate a disturbing trend of drug abuse among teenagers in schools or students in Tamale Metropolis and Sagnarigu Municipal of the northern region of Ghana, particularly involving substances like shisha and tramadol. Negative peer group influence emerged as a prominent factor leading adolescents into the realm of drug abuse. Inadequate parental supervision, coupled with parental substance use, was identified as significant contributors to adolescents adopting similar habits. Encouragingly, a noteworthy percentage of teenagers in schools or students demonstrated awareness of available resource and help centres for seeking assistance and counselling services against drug abuse. However, sadly mist this greater level of awareness it was surprising to note that a good percentage of the respondents would not seek help for substance use challenges sterming from stigma associated with mental health and limited resources.

Conclusion: To address the burgeoning issue of adolescent drug abuse, it is imperative for the Ghana Education Service to integrate education on drug abuse into the school curriculum. This addition would equip students with a deeper understanding of the causes, effects, and potential solutions to drug abuse. Recognizing the detrimental impact of negative peer influence and insufficient parental supervision on students' susceptibility to drug abuse, it is recommended that government institutions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) engage in advocacy and education initiatives targeted at students to mitigate the impact of negative peer pressure and the need for positive parenting.

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