Today is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 2022, also known as World Drug Day.
26 June has been set aside by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), to create awareness about the world drug problem. It is also meant to advocate for strengthening of action and cooperation in the creation of a world free of drug abuse.
Every year, a theme, which usually is centered around current world happenings is chosen by the UNODC, which becomes the focal point for which campaigns, rallies, advocacy programs among others are built.
This year’s theme is ‘Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises’.
In the mist of a pandemic and other diseases, severe flooding, a war which is affecting the world economy, the massive exodus happening across South America into North America, the perilous journeys from the Sahara Desert through Libya and Morocco into Europe; which dangerous criminal organizations who traffic people are heavily exploiting, no better theme would do.
These world crises are some of the factors which can cause trauma and in turn lead to the initiation of drug use or the escalation of an existing drug use problem.
People who use drugs want to get help. They will receive help when it is offered them. Most of the time however, most people think that people who use drugs and have developed Substance Use Disorder prefer to remain in their present condition, and thus most of the time, they are not included in many relief programs.
This reminds me of a scene from a news item which was aired during the Covid-19 lock down period in Ghana; March, 2020. During that period, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had taken up to distribute ‘hot’ meals to homeless women working as porters in the Central Business District in Accra (they are popularly called Kayayei).
In the news interview, some of the women were furious that some of them were not getting the food because whenever they queued up to receive the food, ‘the drug users’ will also join the queue and take part of it. She said it in Twi, it sounded as if the people she was referring to were not human and so did not deserve to eat.
It is really unfortunate that most people behave this way because they do not know better. On a day like this, let us take time to explain to them that persons who use drugs are also human, they deserve to eat, get treatment for their disorder, get employment, and also enjoy all the privileges that the rest of us in society are due.
Do it today with your voice, your face, your influence and any resource you can spare.