Mayday! Mayday! Mayday …This is a distress call for assistance; there is an overwhelming danger that could lead to loss of lives and properties.
History has thought us how these calls can go a long way to save people and how it can lead to death and destruction of property, if it receives no response.
It is known that all 46 passengers on the Steamship, Kentucky, in 1910, were saved because of an early SOS alert made.
Notably the Titanic was known to have issued both SOS and distress (CQD) alerts, but still lost a huge percentage of its passengers.
Away from the deep blue sea and shipwrecks, let’s come to our daily undertakings.
Most of the choices we make can cause us more than we expect and in the end, they either become a crises which can be resolved within a short period or a problem that lingers on for a lifetime.
I see efforts being made in the area of sanitation, disease prevention and a host of others.
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Fortunately or unfortunately, the issue of drug abuse is fast consuming us, but not much is being done about it.
There is abundant knowledge and information on the ill effects of substance abuse on the individual and the family.
Substance use disorders (SUDs), popularly known as drug addiction, is a problematic use of substance that results in impairment in daily life or noticeable distress (Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel-(DSM)-5).
Resolving the issue of SUDs can be done by adopting several strategies.
Preventive education is basically enlightening people about the effects of substance abuse.
Research shows that it can delay the onset of drug use among adolescents to the time their brains have developed enough for them to make informed decisions, mostly around age 21.
Harm reduction, another strategy, is basically about reducing the harm associated with substance use.
For example, bottling alcoholic beverages in plastic containers instead of glass containers, syringe exchange programmes with the intravenous drug users and others.
Treatment and rehabilitation, on the other hand, is using medication, counselling and psychotherapy to help a person with substance use disorder live a fruitful and meaningful life.
Recently, there was the campaign against tramadol abuse and most influential people pledged to support this campaign.
I believe it is time to move away from just pledging to adopt a more rigorous and practical approach to solving this issue.
Drug rehabilitation is not just about housing people and giving them drugs to stop cravings for some time and releasing them to their family, which surprisingly most families run away from.
No! There are rehabilitation centres in Ghana operating in a vacuum, putting their clients in more serious health conditions.
Most lack staff with the knowledge and credentials to provide the full range of evidence-based services required.
Unlike a few that have strategic ways of handling clients such as the Pantang Rehab, House of St Francis, Addictive Disease Unit and a few others, the rest are practising otherwise.
Rehab is not about medications only but also about helping the person to understand the nature of addiction, identifying recovery capital and then learning strategies and skills to prevent relapse.
In order to get stakeholders in this area to do the right thing, there is the need to set the standards for treatment and then monitor it to see that service providers and recipients are all being served well.
There should be the need for the government to take the issue as serious as it is and put in mechanisms to arrest the situation; like having a toll free line and training enough SUD professionals to handle such services as successfully done in Kenya.
Again, there is the need to get national rehabilitation centres to make treatment accessible and affordable.
There is a distress call to arrest the canker to avoid loss of lives and properties.
Let us heed to it!! No one dreams of being addicted to substances.
But the price will be paid by all if we do not arrest it now.
Recovery is possible, let’s move towards it!!!!
The writer is a SUD Professional and a National Trainer of Addiction Professionals.