The prevalence of drugs among young people in Liberia is a serious threat to the social fabric. Illegal drugs have many side effects, both on the human body and on society. Illegal drug users can have impaired judgment, altered states of mind, and prolonged use can lead to mental illnesses, etc. Other side effects include high school dropout rates, poverty, etc.
The increasing use of illegal drugs by young people is detrimental to society, as indicated by the growing number of crimes across the country. It is a major contributor to poverty, nationwide.
From drugs to crime:
This habit has led many teenagers and young adults to lose the thread of their lives, to live in ghettos and to pose a serious threat to the general population, by extension to national security through the commission of various crimes ranging from armed robbery murder, rape, burglary, theft, gangsterism, etc. which has created an enormous task for the police beyond their current capacity. The number of young people using drugs continues to rise daily, if urgent action is not taken our communities are more likely to be hotbeds of crime.
A few years ago, Mrs. Alice B. Weah, former Borough Governor of New Kru Town, a suburb of Monrovia, indicated that there were approximately 866 ghettos in Monrovia alone. She made the statement during a 2018 World Drug Day celebration held in the borough.
Such statements put the issue squarely on the priority list of every well-meaning Liberian. One can only imagine how many of our young people are huddled together in messy places, living like zombies one moment and wreaking havoc in our communities the next. As more and more people become addicted to drugs, our society is in imminent danger of chaos and destruction as it continues to breed criminals. It’s a ticking time bomb, spinning faster than we seem able to stop it.
Since then, the situation has worsened. So even President Weah recognized it. At a citizen engagement meeting in Margibi County in April 2021, he called on citizens to join the government in the fight against illegal drugs as it is rapidly destroying young people.
In a similar vein, youth advocate Thomas T. Bundoo in July 2021 declared drug addiction a national emergency and pointed to weak drug laws and unsophisticated security system as the main causes of the proliferation of drugs in Liberia. It is widely believed in some quarters that some law enforcement officers are also users of illegal drugs, making it difficult for the government to aggressively crack down on those selling illegal drugs.
In the face of things, the government of Liberia must be tough and act quickly to save the future of young people. The legislature must begin the process with the passage of tough new drug laws. The executive branch should ensure enforcement and prosecution, while the judiciary should focus on justice. Finally, communities should help authorities report anyone involved in the act. They should no longer protect residents who engage in the sale of illegal drugs under the guise of commerce or poverty.
Illegal drugs must be declared a public enemy and people employed by the government must be tested regularly every year. Offenders must be prosecuted to avoid impunity.
Similarly, drug testing should be a major requirement for the admission of students to schools (middle and high schools, colleges and other institutions of higher education) and for the recruitment of teachers throughout the country. Our nurses, doctors and civil servants must be tested regularly as part of their job.
Illegal drugs are rapidly destroying the nation and threatening our national security. It requires urgent attention.
Koiyan C. Kollie, MPA candidate,
University of Liberia Graduate School