Drug abuse: the salient grave for university students

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Mairungi, a narcotic herb chewed by the leaves is one of the most abused drugs by University students.

Anew wave of drug addiction by students living in various hostels in Kiyembe, Nabutiti, Kabalagala and Kansanga could end up tarnishing the name of Uganda’s leading private University has struggled to build over the years.

Kampala International University stands worried of its glorious name with an increased number of students residing in hostels outside campus now abusing drugs more than ever. Whistle blowers indicate that majority of the students abusing drugs are male compared to their female counterparts.

The high rate of drug abuse among University students is according to experts triggered by a number of factors including notorious backgrounds, peer pressure, course overload, and lack of self-esteem, lack of proper mentorship, love and relationship problems among others.

Susan Namboozo, the principal coordinator ,’Forum for Ideas’, a student think tank based in KIU, that has been investigating drug abuse among university students attributes the vice to poor parenting, false perceptions and lack of proper  mentorship especially among male students.

‘’In our findings, we discovered that the root cause of drug abuse is poor parenting and lack of proper mentorship among the boys or male students. That’s why majority of students abusing drugs in KIU are boys.’’ Said Namboozo.

Kenneth Mwanguhya is a student of business administration at Kampala International University who spends most of his time puffing ganja and chewing Mairungi with or without peers. In my interaction with him, Mwanguhya was not willing to be recorded in any form not until i assured him of protecting his identity, ’face’’ and year or class. His cheeks were slightly sunken making his cheek bones prominent. His large t-shirt with a wide neck exposed pointed shoulder blades and that was enough to tell that the fellow was not doing well.

Mwanguhya was introduced to drugs in 2016 by his friends who would depend on drugs for survival most of the little time he had known them. To him this was life worth living and indeed he had to give it a trial.

The first taste was enough to turn everything in Mwanguhya’s life around. He is now a celebrated member of the ten member- crew of drug abusers among whom only two are ladies. Seven out of the ten members come from the same region. He now takes close to three bottles of alcohol and chews at least a kilogram of mairungi every day just because he wants to quit drugs. At his peak, he would consume more than bottles of alcohol mixed with drugs and would spend over eight hours chewing Mairungi with his Peers and sometimes alone in his hostel room in Kiyembe.

‘’I used to look at my friends enjoy these things and I would admire being like them. So I had to give it a trial. When I tried the first time, I felt good and marked the beginning. Each day that followed I took a greater step in terms of the amount consumed.’’ Said Mwanguhya.

Mwanguhya and peers consume different drugs ranging from the most common Mairungi-a narcotic herb, tobacco, cocaine mixture, marijuana, shisha among others.

High profile drugs including narcotic tablets are also on the rise around kabalagala and kansanga.

When asked whether he doesn’t feel embarrassed purchasing drugs,Mwanguhya said that they have confidential suppliers in Kansanga who are always stocked to capacity with a variety of drugs and narcotics.

According to sources that preferred anonymity, some youth most of them KIU students usually meet near the southwest end of the University’s soccer playground to feast on drugs. It is said these boys and some few ladies spend most their time under some trees smoking and chewing a variety of drugs.Mwanguhya also confirmed that he normally goes there to hang out with his friends. Despite the fact that this place is known to Kabalagala and Kansanga security operatives, nothing has been done to stop them. 

However, Doctor Kareem Abdul Azeez, Head of Department School of law puts the blame on the institution for not understanding the students’ problems and weaknesses that lead them into drug abuse. He said that most students end up abuse drugs because failure to handle some problems like poor results, relationships and peer influence in pursuit of belonging.

‘’The smartest way of fixing a problem is not creating more problems, the university system has not done enough in terms of guidance and counselling.’’ Said Abdul Kareem.

VIEWS ABOUT THE CAUSES OF DRUG ABUSE AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, NAMBOOZO SUZAN AND DOCTOR KAREEM ABDUL AZEEZ.

He challenged the university administration to establish structures where students can easily be reached and engaged. This will help lectures and councilors to reach out and build confidence among students to overawed different trials and challenges.

MAP SHOWING THE LOCATION OF KAMPALA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY, MAIN CAMPUS

Much as our efforts to reach the University counselor proved futile, Kampala International University like many other universities in Uganda, does not have any other open office that handles student social problems far from the academic world. Despite the fact that there is a student’s guild union supposed to handle students’ problems, the provision and responsibility to follow up students is yet to be included in the Guild constitution.

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