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Drugs, Mental Health Terrible Twins Of Yore

A lecturer in mental health at the Institute of Health Sciences (IHS) in Lobatse says drugs and substance abuse have been with us since time immemorial. The use of drugs and substance is remnant in our society.

David Mangwegape, a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatric Mental Health at IHS says drugs have a huge influence on the global scene as far as health care administration is concerned .

In an interview with The Monitor at Embrace Emotions Support Network’s (EESN) on the sidelines of a public lecture on illicit drugs and mental health at Cresta Lodge on Saturday, he said drugs contributed to mental health problems.

Mangwegape, who is also the co-founder of EESN explained that drugs could affect brain cells therefore leading to mental health disorder.

He explained that some people suffered from mental health due to drug use disorder whilst some people living with mental illness ended up resorting to drugs to cope with their illnesses.

He said people take drugs for various reasons such celebrating success, enhance performance, to curb anxiety, reduce stress and ease physical pain.

“Drugs have a huge influence on the global scene as far as health care administration is concerned. According to the UNODC, in 2015, about a quarter of a billion people used drugs. Of these, around 29.5 million people or 0.6% of the global adult population were engaged in problematic use and suffered from drug use disorders, including dependence,” he wrote on his book titled Gateways to Better Mental Health that was published recently.

He noted that in Botswana, substance abuse disorders account for 15.9% of psychiatric admissions nationwide and six percent outpatients’ attendances.

He further highlighted that the Botswana Youth Risk Behavioural Surveillance of 2012 revealed that 14.9% reported having used marijuana, 5.7% used sextasy, 5.7% used cocaine whilst 3.7% used ecstasy, explaining that the gravity of substance use disorders statistics was quite alarming in the


Mangwegape further explained that there were a variety of psychoactive drugs that were often used. He said some of those drugs were socially acceptable like alcohol and tobacco whilst marijuana, cocaine and Mandrax were illicit as their use was in contravention of the medicine and related substances Act of 2013.

“Drugs and or substance are a ticking time bomb set to explode further.

Whilst we have been accustomed to most common drugs, others emerging in earnest, I noted in one article that I wrote for the Botswana Guardian of the proliferation of new drugs and highlighted one called Kuber, which has found its way into Botswana. There is more that we don’t know in the peripheries out there,” he said.

He said psychoactive substances often tap into brain communication system and either mimic or disrupt the function of nerve cells. Nerve cells were responsible for sending and receiving messages as well as processing data.

He pointed out that as noted by National Bureau of Economic Research, there was definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances.

“Alcohol intoxication can cause irritability, violent behaviour, feelings of depression and in rare cases hallucinations and delusions. Dependence often results from long-term use which may culminate in the individual having what is termed Wenicke-Korsakoff psychosis.

This is characterised by abnormal patterns of thinking and behaviour. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is a causal relationship between harmful use of alcohol and a range of mental behavioural disorders, other than non-communicable conditions as well as injuries.

WHO also states that prevalence of alcohol use disorders and dependence was 5.8% in Botswana comparable to 3.3% in WHO African region.




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