Substance abuse as a destructive vice among sexual minorities in Uganda

Published: December 23, 2011

Introduction: Recreation is part of growing up and an improvement to quality of life. However, some forms of recreation like use/abuse of substances like alcohol, psycho-active drugs taken in form of smoke or beverages have inherent destructive effects to life. Long-term regular users of marijuana may become psychologically dependent. They may have a hard time limiting their use, they may need more of the drug to get the same effect, and they may develop problems with their jobs and personal relationships. Drug abuse is a risk factor to both communicable and non-communicable diseases like heart failure, mental illnesses and hypertension. There is a relation between substance abuse and poor self esteem among marginalised communities.

Methods: 7 sex-work groups with 180 members aged 18-27 years, 12 same sex groups with 200 members aged 20-29 years and 3 substance users’ groups with 42 members aged 18-37 years were followed for 1 year (in 2010) and use of substances (alcohol, smoking, injectable drugs, and psycho-active beverages) was common. Most of the members had started off at an early age between 11- 16 years.

Results: There is a lack of inconsistence in engaging in productive work by most members. This is partly due indulgence in substance abuse and lack of employable skills. There were 22 reported cases of assault among these followed groups with 4 cases of severe bodily harm as a result of fights during or immediately after substance abuse.

Conclusion: Substance use can be detrimental to productive survival skills. It deprives one of proper community integration. It may partly explain why there is low self esteem and poor health practices in these communities. Lack of employable skills is one of the reasons that many people seek substance use as an alternative to drown depressions.

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