People take drugs for many different reasons but at the end of day they all affect your normal body function. This week’s discussion focused on why people take drugs and how it affects their mental well-being. Our discussion focused on common drugs which are available to residents of Mukuru such as bhang, cocaine, mandrax, tobacco, khat alcohol, chang’aa and other ones known as mawhite and mayellow.
With the majority of the participants being young people, it was noted that the earlier you begin to use drugs, the more vulnerable they become to both short term and long-term harmful effects in both your mental and physical being. Majority of these effects are unnoticeable meaning you can’t notice them in the early stages of consumption. Substance use has been associated with increased risk for a number or outcomes such as impaired peer relationships, addiction, crime, mental illness, increased risk for suicide, hallucinations, high-risk sexual behavior, disorders, HIV/AIDS, disrupted learning, absenteeism, school drop-out among others.
Mental health is critically important to everyone all over the world. However, how you take care of your mental state is different from everyone else. With the majority of people using different ways of coping mechanisms, drug and substance abuse has made their mental state worse resulting in different mental illnesses and disorders. When someone with a mental illness uses drugs, medical practitioners refer to this as ‘dual diagnosis’. Meaning you’re using drugs to treat the disorder.
Mukuru is one place that is known to have easy access to any type of drug. The availability of the drugs has made it easy for young people to consume. With less than 20, you can consume a drug or substance that would make you high. Some people with a mental illness have problems using alcohol. Considering alcohol is legal, many people tend to use it more than any other type of drug. A person’s long-term effects on alcohol are also determined by the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption. The harmful effects of excessive drinking can be severe, both physically and mentally.
We asked young people why they use drugs or any substance and some of the reasons pointed out were stress, peer pressure, curiosity, insomnia, availability of the substance, improving the brain’s functionality, fun and others as a way of life. Although drug use and addiction can happen at any time during a person’s life, adolescents are at higher risks of experiencing the effects of the consumption for long.
It was interesting to find out that there are people who have never taken or consumed any type of drug with them pointing out that the effects of drugs kept them off. Others have lost family members due to drug and substance abuse thus why they can’t engage in consuming any type of drug.
“I was raised in a home where my parents were very strict. There was no way you were allowed to walk with anyone who uses drugs. I remember I was beaten because there were rumors that I was hanging around with someone who was known to use drugs.” Participant said
You never realize your addict till you get to a point you can’t operate without consuming it. It’s probably an addiction and your mental state isn’t normal if you notice a change in your own or another person’s emotions, thoughts or behaviors. Some drugs may temporarily reduce symptoms of mental illness, but they can also make them worse.
Through stories of change, participants who overcame drug and substance abuse were able to share how they overcame the addiction or the urge. With the majority pointing out that the use of drugs was draining them mentally, financially, emotionally and physically.
We call for more collaboration in addressing environments that influence mental health and strengthening the mental health care systems. Young people and everyone must be able to access mental health services. If drug use affects your mental health, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can reach out to us through our social media platforms. See you on Tuesday!