Liquid Courage: The Drug Epidemic

What has life been reduced to? What more could go wrong? What in the world is liquid courage? All these questions and more recrudesce my mind each day. I am sure it’s the same for you. While I still have so many unanswered questions, it is said, ‘show me your friend and I will tell u who you are’.


JTL was a lone kid to his parents but his dad had two other kids. He lived free of them and never met them. All his life revolved around mummy who made sure he had all he needed. By the time he turned 15, mummy got sick. He was caught up between school and taking care of his mother. Actually, she had been sick for years and this was the reason she and dad did not work out in the first place. This episode was more frightful and broke his heart each time he had to think about it. He joggled between home, school and hospital for almost a week. There was no external help coming because mum’s family was stuck in the US with no possible way of getting to the scene. All they did was send money when the need aroused. Dad too was not forthcoming in that area. It seemed all that everyone could offer was money. But as it were, that was not the need. He struggled so much to see that mum was good and also to keep up with school. After weeks of this hideous routine, mum was finally lost to breast cancer. Caught up in grieve and swallowed by anger, he tried so hard to suppress these feelings. When the burial was over, he was forced to go live with his dad and his new family.

Weeks went by and things kept getting worst. He buckled up and was ready for the ride but even these seat belts proved abortive. All dad ever did was give him money for his needs. Step-mum had no time for him. She cared less whether he made progress or not and would not hesitate to rain insults on him. The charade went on for months and the rough journey seemed unending. One morning while at school, Henry walked up to him to talk. He spoke to him for almost two minutes with no response so he pinched him out of his thoughts. Recovering from his deep thought, he rendered no word but picked his bag and headed for the door. Henry followed him and said, “I get that you are a troubled child like me. All I want to do is help you just like I was helped”. So reluctant, he turned to leave. Henry pulled him back and it was then he gave him the magic that changed his life. He offered him juice saying, “I am sorry you had to lose your mother. Like I said earlier, we are the same. We have the same issues so I guess with this peace offering we could be friends.” JTL, without offering a word left. On his way home he drank the juice and when he got home, for the first time he slept like a baby with nothing to think about. This had to have been the best night’s sleep he’d for over 6months. The next day in school, he was unusually happy and excited at everything that was going on. He went to see Henry and thank him for the juice. Just like this, it became a routine. More and more he could not do without the juice as this was the only time he felt good about himself and could live without thinking of what a shame his life had become. Progressively, he will stay behind uncompleted buildings with friends when he should be in class and they will take all sort of things in the name of liquid courage.

His new attitude raised concerns with teachers. They were giving him space hoping the phase of grief will pass. When the concerns kept coming, they tried to correct what was going wrong through punishment but even this wouldn’t cut it. The teachers got higher authorities in the school involved. His dad was invited to the school to talk about the child but with his busy schedule he couldn’t make out the time to come see what was actually going on and sent step mum who never showed up. The school got frustrated and even gave him over to the police one time to get trashed hoping this will count for something but if for anything, it got worst. When this became too much for the school, he was dismissed. This was so insignificant as no one at home noticed.

This gave him a free pass to “get high” even more. He had all the money with no one to caution him. One day, he had a fit and was rushed to the hospital. Even at this, it took dad almost 34 hours to get there. It was then that it was revealed to him that his boy had been on drugs and actually was in the hospital because he had overdosed. It was then that he got linked to the counsellor in the hospital. After trying so hard to get across to him, he finally confided in her saying, “At first, my mum was the only person that kept me going. When she left, Tramadol took that place but even at that, there are times when you need something stronger to go along. So don’t judge me. You don’t know where I have been but right now I feel good about myself. Truth be told I will still take my drugs because it helps me forget.”


Like JTL, so many kids in our secondary schools are into hard drugs. They have reasons like wanting to be a part of the trend, trying to deal with the pressure of teen years and other family issues or just wanting to experiment. While this might be the deal, so many youths now believe they can’t function unless they are on these drugs. While we spend time complaining I will love us to take a minute and see what actually goes on.

What

Drug abuse simply put is the habitual taking of illegal drugs. Those common around us are:

# Tobacco
# Cannabis
# Tramadol
# Cocaine # Alcohol

Who uses Drugs?

While we all are at risk, the youth are more prone to this habit. This is simply because they are more adventurous and like to try out new things. More than 7 million people in the world suffer from illicit drug use disorder. One in four deaths can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco and illicit or description drug use.

Drug Abuse Triggers

We are all capable of so much but our actions are often conserved by where we find ourselves, the people we interact with and who we are made out to be. There are three types of drug triggers:

  1. Social – A social trigger such as spending time with an old drug dealer, a person you used to drink with, or an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend could cause you to crave alcohol or drugs.
  2. Emotional – Moods and emotions have a big impact on substance abuse. Intense feelings of happiness, anger, sadness, exhaustion or stress are all emotional triggers that could cause a person to turn to substance abuse.
  3. Environmental – An environmental trigger could include driving by the location of a traumatic event, attending a party where drugs and alcohol are present.

The common triggers however are:

  •  Stress – Stress from work, school or just everyday life may cause you to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Additionally, major life changes may also cause you to crave drugs and/or alcohol. Financial problems are also a major cause of stress, such as being unable to pay a bill or losing a job.
  • Locations – Music concerts, bars, hotels, a friend’s home may all remind you of previous drug use. If there is a certain place in your home where you used to stash your drugs, seeing it or being near it may also conjure thoughts of drug usage.
  • Moods – Although you may only notice cravings when you’re feeling an intense emotion like fear, shame or hate, even normal feelings of boredom, insecurity or tiredness can lead to substance abuse.
  • Smells, tastes or noises – If you used drugs at a certain restaurant or while dancing at a particular club in the past, the smells of the food or the sound of the club music may cause you to develop cravings for the drugs again.
  • People – A spouse, friend, coworker, neighbour or family member may all serve as triggers. Depending on your previous usage habits and the role of these individuals in your life, it may be necessary to avoid contact with certain people to maintain sobriety and limit temptation.
  • Dates – The holidays are often a difficult time for people in recovery simply because of the constant exposure to alcoholic beverages. But a particular date, time of year, or even time of day can also be a trigger, especially if it is associated with a traumatic event, memory or person.

It is, however, worth noting that these hard drugs do not solve the problem but only create more.

Effects of drug abuse

  • A weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness and infection
  • Heart conditions ranging from abnormal heart rates to heart attacks and collapsed veins and blood vessel infections from injected drugs
  • Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss
  • Increased strain on the liver, which puts the person at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure
  • Seizures, stroke, mental confusion and brain damage
  • Lung disease
  • Problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult
  • Global effects of drugs on the body, such as breast development in men and increases in body temperature, which can lead to other health problems.

Source: The gateway foundation

In Cameroon according to National Media, 21% of the population have already tried a hard drug. 10% are frequent consumers including 60% of young people aged 20 – 25.

Drug effects on behaviour

These include Paranoia, Aggressiveness, Hallucinations, Addiction, Impaired Judgment, Impulsiveness, Loss of Self-Control etc.

These effects of drug abuse have serious consequences, like missed work, punishable crimes, accidents and injuries.

Substance use disorders can lead to multiple behavioral problems, both in the short- and long-term.


All this will keep going on unless we attack the problem from the roots. Like JTL, many have turned to these drugs because they think it helps them forget. DOES IT REALLY MAKE YOU FORGET?

Not at all. When the effects of these drugs pass, they feel worst about themselves. This is why many become addicted so that they can always be in the state of not remembering but this is the wrong way to handle it. We should learn to talk to someone when we have issues especially a therapist. This will help than trying to drown our sorrow in hard drugs. We can stop drug abuse but we must work together and work with solid courage and not liquid courage.

Life does not get better by chance but by change.

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