Mental Health Authority calls for critical efforts to combat drug abuse

The Mental Health Authority of Ghana (MHA) has called on stakeholders to join critical efforts to combat drug abuse by investing in prevention.

It said joining forces to implement people-centred drug policies, with a focus on human rights, empathy, compassion, and evidence-based practices, devoid of judgment and discrimination, was crucial to building a healthier, drug-free future for all Ghanaians.

A statement signed by Professor Pinaman Appau, the Chief Executive of MHA and copied to the Ghana News Agency to commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has said.

“The evidence is clear: investing in prevention not only reduces the incidence of drug abuse but also strengthens community well-being and safeguards our collective future,” it said.

The Day, which is globally observed annually on June 26 seeks to create awareness of drug abuse and illicit trafficking and was on the theme: “The Evidence is Clear: Invest in Prevention.”

Drug abuse is defined as the excessive and harmful use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, illicit drugs like cannabis, heroin, and cocaine among others, and prescription medications like tramadol and other opiates and opioids, leading to addiction.

It is caused by socio-economic stressors, response to trauma, peer influence, and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Ghana faces a growing challenge with drug abuse, especially among the youth, which undermines public health, safety, and socio-economic development.

Data from the District Health Information Management System (DHIMS) has consistently captured mental disorders due to alcohol and other psychoactive disorders among the top ten (10) causes of mental health outpatient (OPD) attendance.

In 2023, a total of 3,765 cases of mental disorders due to alcohol use were attended to, and 5,554 cases concerning other psychoactive substance use.

It said the five-year trend of mental disorders due to psychoactive substance use has shown a steady rise in the number of cases from 4,155 in 2019 to 5,554 cases in 2023, with the age range most affected being 20-34 years. 

It must be noted that children as young as 10-14 years are also presenting with conditions stemming from drug use, the statement said.

It said the recent trends Indicated a consistent rise in drug-related incidents and health crises, underscoring the urgent need for robust preventive efforts and intervention strategies.

The statement said the MHA in fighting against drug abuse had come up with various initiatives including Public Awareness Campaigns, Youth and School-Based Programmes, Rehabilitation and Support Services, as well as Policy Advocacy.

It assured stakeholders that moving forward the MHA reaffirms its unwavering commitment to addressing the pervasive challenges and devastating effects of drug abuse and illicit trafficking through promoting evidence-based preventive measures. 

It called for effective prevention and intervention strategies, improved access to treatment, fostered multidisciplinary collaboration and empowered communities to mitigate the underlying factors and curb the spread of addiction and substance use disorders.

Source: GNA

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