We can fight drug and substance abuse

By Lydia Lakwonyero, :: 02-06-2011

It is possible for one to be saved and still have problems related to drug and alcohol abuse, Doug Fountain  the DVC Development and External Relations has said. 
Fountain who has in the past worked in the field of drug and alcohol abuse for 13 years in America, was one of the speakers during the Health Awareness Week.
He said many Christians face these challenges because in most cases there are things in their past lives  they continue to struggle with.
Fountain reasoned that while for some there are testimonies of instant healing, for others it is a process.
“As Christians, we can help these people by first of all being informed about drug and alcohol abuse. We need to work and walk with them,” said Fountain.
Fountain said studies worldwide show that half of students in Christian universities occasionally drink. And that UCU is no exception.
He said some drugs abused like marijuana mess with the short-term memory of the abuser, a thing that is bad for one’s academic life.
“Many of such students end up missing class, getting into fights and even getting killed. Some get emotional disorders; they are easily angered, and live lives of depression,” he said.
Speaking to The Standard from her office at Mulago Hospital, Dr. Margaret Mungherera, senior consultant psychiatrist Ministry of Health, said 50-60% of mental illnesses in Uganda today result from substance abuse.
Mungherera said more young people are getting into drug and alcohol abuse because parents seem to have no time for their children thus leave them at the mercies of their peers.
She mentioned that although occasional drinking does not necessarily mean one is an addict, many addicts start just with drinking a little. She also said studies show that drug abusers start with alcohol.
Mungherera cited some symptoms of addiction as withdrawal, restlessness when the drug is not taken, and going the extra mile to get the drug in one’s system even if it means stealing or selling property.
“Families need to know that there is help out there. Every health worker is given communication skills to help such a person. Counsellors and religious institutions out there can help. We also have the alcohol and drug unit at Butabika Hospital that runs every week.”
 Mungherera warned on addiction to therapeutic drugs saying it is also abuse. She said many more people are falling victim because of self-medication and irresponsibility on the part of some medical workers.
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