National Youth Council of Malawi (NYCOM) took some time to talk to a Professional Psychosocial Counsellor from St. John of God-Chandulo Kayira (CK) to give a snap shot of the drug situation in the country. The initials CK will be used for the responses.

NYCOM: What is your name and what do you do?

CK: I am Chandulo Kayira; a Professional Psychosocial Counsellor working with St. John of God, here in Lilongwe. My job involves working with individuals in the context establishing the influence factors surrounding social environment have on their physical and mental wellness and their ability to function.

NYCOM: What is drug abuse?
CK: Drug abuse is any improper use of a substance for personal reasons except what it was intended for. There are many types of drugs that are abused but the common ones include, Cannabis, Pethidine, Codeine and Promethazine.

NYCOM: In your expert opinion, what would you is the largest cause of drug abuse?
CK: Lack of self-awareness and healthy decision making skills in young people
NYCOM: What is the difference between a trafficker and a drug abuser?
CK: Not all drug traffickers are drug abusers and not all drug abusers are drug traffickers. This means it is possible for someone to abuse drugs- that is to use drugs other than for their intended purposes and yet not be a trafficker. Drug trafficking is to illegally move them from one location to another, domestic or internationally with the aim of supplying to others for consumption.

NYCOM: What are the effects of drug abuse?
CK: Moral decadence, violence, mental illness, behavioral problems, physical illnesses and even death
Currently, drug abuse is the leading cause of mental illness in youths; i.e. at St John of God Centre, for every 10 youths engaged in counselling, at least 6 will report issues of drug abuse. Apart from mental health issues there are other effects such as Physical sickness and deterioration. The situation has reached alarming levels with several reported deaths even on the social media all of young people dying from drug abuse complications. Currently it has been known that universities and schools are the becoming drug hubs and the worst case scenarios as far as drug abuse is concerned.

NYCOM: Are there any signs or indications that someone may be abusing drugs
CK: Change in behavior, unexplained money spending, irritability and unwarranted aggression, isolation, disorganized behaviors, school absenteeism.
NYCOM: What available interventions are available for those seeking help?

CK: They should seek professional counselling; with professional assistance. Young people should reach out to and not be ashamed. It is possible to recover and live a normal and productive life
NYCOM: Any last words?
CK: This is a battle to be fought by all stakeholders, no single entity would fight this and win.

Young people arise and join the fight against drugs. Drug abuse and drug trafficking should not rob us of the future. We are young for a season, but we have a life to live…Say no to drugs.

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