COVID-19 contributes to drug use, psychiatrist says

Tujoromajo Kasuto

Stress during the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to increased substance abuse, thus causing a snowball effect on the demand of illicit substances amidst the pandemic.

Over the weekend the Namibian Police reported a number of arrests across the country involving drugs.

According to Psychiatry Specialist, Mental health and Addiction professional at the Windhoek Central Hospital, Lahija Hamunjela, most of the admissions at the psychiatry ward are connected to substance abuse, which are predominantly an outcome of mental illness.

Hamunjela says there is a close relationship between people who have depression and the use of substances. “The current stress that a person is encountering might be too much, therefore seeking for the coping mechanisms which are very important when healthy options are chosen, but they use that is a copping root, to deal with what they are going through.”

The psychiatrist also mentioned that some of the contributing factors range between social, psychological and social.

“The social setting is at most times related to wanting to belong, thus people are peer pressured into taking substances to feel a part of something, which is being done in the environment or with the people they interact with. We can look at the biological factor, look within the family, if there is a history of substance abuse and then the chance for the person to use is very high because there is a genetic link. The psychological is that the stress which people might be experiencing, can lead them to substance abuse as a coping mechanism.”

Hamunjela, further notes that there is a correlation between gender-based violence, domestic violence as when a person is under the influence of substances, they are unable to think clearly. “The reason we are saying that is because when you take in any of the substances, the person becomes disinhibited, meaning they cannot control their actions at that particular moment, but they look back at it, they are able to recall it.”

The Namibian Police Force has reported serious incidents over the weekend where about 14 people were caught in possession of illicit drugs such as Cannabis, Mandrax tablets, Ecstasy, Crack and Cocaine Powder.

On Friday, 23 July, a 29-year-old man was found in possession of cannabis at Omakange Iitananga roadblock. Furthermore an 18- year-old man was arrested after he was found in possession with 05 Doses of Cocaine Powder and 01 Unit of Crack Cocaine in Khomasdal, Windhoek.

Whilst in Gibeon five Suspects between the ages of 24 and 49 were arrested during a Police search after they were found with 54 ballies of pure cannabis wrapped in a newspaper and 2½ mandrax tablets.

On Saturday, 24 July, a 46-year-old woman was arrested after she was found in possession of 12 × full mandrax tablets, 1 × half mandrax tablet and 2 × quarter mandrax tablets, during a police search in Gibeon. Meanwhile in Outjo, around the early hours another 41-year-old Namibian man was arrested after he was found in possession of cannabis at the road block during a police search. Three men in their early 20s were found in possession of cannabis in Walvis Bay while on Sunday two Namibian man were also arrested in Walvis Bay after they were found with 1585 grams of loose cannabis and 04 capsules of Ecstasy (MADA) valued at N$ 80 250 00.

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