The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Rethink Strategy On Fighting Substance Abuse

editorial

Last Thursday, police in Gisagara District reportedly arrested 12 suspects and seized 2,000 litres of illicit brew as well as cannabis. This is part of an ongoing onslaught on the use of narcotics and illicit liquor countrywide.

Government has justifiably realised the need to fight substance abuse due to the effect this has on the country's economy and social fibre. Our youth, mostly and dreadfully so, become victims to narcotics and illicit liquor and are then trapped in the downward spiral of addiction and ruin. Drugs and illicit alcohol are the bane that wrecks lives, ruins families and destabilise society.

Addicts often think of nothing else except for their next fix. If they do not have the money to uphold their fatal habit, they will beg or steal. It is indeed a sorry situation that causes narcotics and Kanyanga, as it is commonly referred to, to have such a perilous impact not just on the kith and kin, but on wider society.

And as a matter of fact, in spite of the recent drug dragnets, it is common knowledge that our security officials may only seize a portion of the narcotics and illicit alcohol. However, they may sometimes impound big quantities, besides identifying and crushing whole smuggling networks. But while mass arrests may inhibit the lethal trade, this is only a piecemeal solution since there are always other traffickers raring to go on with this deadly trade.

Moreover, hardly do the police ever arrest key drugs barons as most of the narcotics and illicit liquor is smuggled from neigbouring countries.

Without a doubt, efforts to educate the public, especially our young people, about the dangers associated with drugs are still sorely needed.

Besides, there should be programmes to talk detained or suspected traffickers out of the grave business and improve the lives of their families and communities by introducing them to alternative means to earn a living.

Eventually, such actions should curb demand for drugs and illicit liquor.

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