Health

‘Kush’ Synthetic Drug Plunges Youth Into Death’s Grip

  • May 28, 2024
  • 2 min read
‘Kush’ Synthetic Drug Plunges Youth Into Death’s Grip

In Sierra Leone, a harrowing epidemic of synthetic drug abuse, particularly a substance known as “kush,” is wreaking havoc among the youth. Trash-strewn alleys bear witness to the plight of boys and young men, their lives consumed by addiction. With healthcare services severely limited, communities are resorting to desperate measures to combat the crisis.

In Freetown’s Bombay neighborhood, a grassroots initiative has emerged in response to these dire circumstances. Initially, the effort began as a passionate attempt to help a colleague’s sibling and eventually expanded into a makeshift treatment center run by dedicated volunteers. When some people refuse to give up their addictions, severe measures such as incarceration and even chaining are used. Christian Johnson, a recipient of this unorthodox intervention, attributes his freedom from the clutches of kush to the intervention, which included a two-month confinement in his room.

The treatment institution, located in an abandoned structure, offers little comfort to its residents. Those receiving therapy face their urges in the absence of distractions and comforts, surrounded by barren walls and concrete floors. Despite the severe surroundings, the effort is said to have helped 70 to 80 people, including a 13-year-old child sent there by his father.

The gravity of the situation has sparked national concern, with President Julius Maada Bio declaring war on kush. His government has formed a task force on drug and substance misuse, emphasizing a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

The composition of kush, compounded by its clandestine production methods, presents a formidable challenge to intervention efforts. Daphne Moffett, representing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Sierra Leone, underscores the necessity of understanding the drug’s components for effective intervention.

As the toll of kush addiction becomes increasingly apparent, urgent action is imperative. While official statistics on kush-related fatalities and hospitalizations remain elusive, anecdotal evidence points to a surge in admissions at Sierra Leone’s sole psychiatric facility. In the face of this escalating crisis, concerted efforts are required to stem the tide of synthetic drug abuse and provide hope for the afflicted youth of Sierra Leone.

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Kasaine Lewis
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