Experts say toxic environment fuels drugs abuse among youth

Friday January 21 2022
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Residents participate in a march dubbed 'Anti-Drug Abuse Walk' to sensitize the public on danders of drugs abuse. PHOTO | FILE


Drug abuse and violent behavior among the youth have been attributed to exposure to toxic environment during tender age.

According to expert, upbringing children in a toxic environment has a bearing on future behaviour if no early mitigation is put in please earl For instance as a child, Evelyne Mukabunane ( not real names), a mother of one had a difficult relationship with her mother.

"My mother hated me so much, and used to beat me all the time. I had a difficult relationship with my step father…” says Mukabunane.

She later got married but the relationship with her husband was abusive and ended in divorce.

As a result, she resorted to starting using hard drugs and abusing alcohol to find solace. Later, she would join the street as a commercial sex worker.

She told her story recently during an event organised by a local Non-Governmental Organization - Purpose Rwanda that focuses on rehabilitation and combating drug addiction.


But according to experts, increasing cases of family conflicts are fueling drug abuse and high risk behaviours among young people such as engaging in commercial sex.

A sociologist lecturer at the University of Rwanda Jean Pier Uwimana says family conflicts including the disagreements between parents as well as between children and parents can lead to high risk behaviour including drug abuse.

For teenagers, a bad relationship with their parents leads to lack of parental guidance.

When children witness domestic violence it also affects their mental health to the extent that they may carry on the violence in their future relationships as husbands or wives.

A recent study by the Ministry of Youth links drug abuse including smoking tobacco and substance abuse to family conflicts.

According to the study, the majority of the victims of family conflicts at least 66.5 percent abuse drugs.

This reflects an increase of 19 percent compared with last year. Figures by the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital -Caraes Ndera that offers specialized healthcare in psychiatry and neurology show that 1.41 percent of mental and behavior disorder cases are linked to abuse of alcohol among the people aged 19, 20-39 while 40. 0.6 percent use cocaine, 2.78 percent use of cannabis, and 4.38 percent due to other psychoactive substances.

To combat drug abuse, the government has been increasing investments in rehabilitation centers.

The government figures show at least 38,894 youth have been rehabilitated in centers countrywide though the majority are reaping offenders who end up going back to the abuse or streets.

The number of hosted addicts in rehab centers has increased from 4800 in 2020 to 7453 in 2021.

Unfortunately, seven percent of them have gone back on the street. According to Fred Mufuruke, director-general of National Rehabilitation Services, there is need for support and co-operation from the society including religious leaders and members of the private sector to fight drug abuse among young people.

Figures show in nine years; the transit has hosted 402,862 delinquency cases. 66.5 percent of them are youth.