A clinical psychologist at Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, at the weekend bemoaned the “alarming rate” at which the youth are abusing drugs and alcohol and called on the government to declare war on the phenomenon.

Dr. Kojo Sagoe who made the call at the third annual symposium on Drugs and Alcohol in Cape Coast described the usage of illicit drugs among the youth as the “biggest national tragedy”.

The symposium was initiated by Dr Sagoe to create awareness on the dangers of illicit drugs and alcohol, particularly among the youth.

He said a United Nations report indicated that 200,000 people die annually due to drugs with 26 million persons being addicted, while 2.5 million persons are killed by the use of alcohol and 20 million from smoking cigarette and tobacco annually.

Dr Sagoe said the abuse of drugs and alcohol was the main cause of suicide hence the need to stem the menace from the society.

The Central Regional Minister, Mrs Ama Benyiwa-Doe in a speech read on her behalf said the abuse of drugs accounted for greater percentage of all psychiatric cases.

The Minister said since the youth were the most vulnerable to drugs and alcohol, it was imperative that parents, opinion leaders, teachers and the public worked in concert to stop its use among the youth.

She said government was not oblivious of the numerous challenges facing psychiatric hospitals and was working around the clock with other stakeholders to ensure the provision of adequate infrastructure for the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital.

Mr Suleiman Kikulwe, Officer at the Counselling Unit of the hospital, highlighted the effect of some substances like cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, heroine, cocaine, glue and paint sniffing.

He said the products were the leading cause of reduced male fertility, abnormal menstrual cycle, high blood pressure, permanent brain damage, cancer, heart attack, stroke and memory loss.

He said marijuana contains 400 harmful chemicals and each cigarette or tobacco contains 4,000 chemicals with 200 being extremely poisonous.

Mr Kikulwe said babies born to alcoholic mothers could suffer from foetal alcohol syndrome, warning that signs of addiction include; isolation, poor personal hygiene, anxiety and chronic lying.

Source: GNA