Substance abuse rampant among learners

A substance abuse research has been carried out between Namibia’s ministry of Health and Social Services and the International Federation of the Blue cross in partnership with the Finnish ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
The research which is a first in Namibia puts her among the leading African countries to partake in a cross-continental research project. The aim of the research was to collect comparable data on substance use among 13-16 year olds learners in African countries.
It is also believed that the research focused on monitoring the trends in substance use in African countries (ASPAD) compared to those in European countries (ESPAD). The consultants from Finland Salme Ahlstrom and Leena Warshall conducted a training course for 40 social workers in Windhoek in order to equip them with the skills to gather data in schools.
According to the press release, the research indicated that in the population drawn on the use of alcohol and other drugs a statistic of 652 schools and 632 learners was recorded. It showed that graders in 8, 9 and 10 and the ages between 13-16 year olds were on substance use.
A total number of 6406 questionnaires were distributed and about 3709 were in the age group of 13-16 years old. In the same age group, 52.7% were males, 63.6% females. The research indicated that the use of cigarettes was at 17% and was used by learners below 16 years old.
Alcohol use was consumed by 5% of the learners. The report shows that they started drinking as early as 9years old and their first alcoholic drink was homebrew. The consumption of beer was at 41%, wines and spirits was at 2.4%and alcoholic cocktail at 16% respectively
According to the statistics on drug abuse, about 80% of the learners never used dagga, 90% didn’t not belong to groups that used dagga, however, 4.7% used hubbly bubbly, 4 used steroids and crack cocaine and heroin 1.5% was used.
The report made suggestions that learners should be given broad strategies aimed at harm reduction to a large population, community policing should be in place and alternative income generating projects should be encouraged.