Substance Abuse Crisis in West Africa

There are no substance abuse recovery programs to speak of in West Africa. The only effort has been to house addicts in a mental hospital so they can “tough it out” during withdrawals. If in the mental hospital, the treatment consists of 3-6 weeks of isolation and being given anti-psychotic drugs to help wean from the drug(s) they are addicted to. The withdrawal from the main drug plaguing West Africa recently, Kush, causes severe flu-like pain throughout the body and terrible headaches. And because addicts turn to theft to financially support their addiction, many addicts end up in prison. Most of the female addicts are turning to sex work to pay for their addiction. All of these behavioral patterns are in direct opposition to the typical close- knit family life that West Africans cherish so the family structure is becoming broken in a way that they’ve never experienced.

In recent years, substance abuse in West Africa has become a horrific epidemic as the synthetic drug “Kush” has gripped the souls of its people, even as young as nine year old children. It is said that the root cause of this addiction is poverty and neglect. Many people are dying from the use of this drug, even the very young. To witness the effects of this drug on a person is quite alarming – from difficulty breathing to experiencing an inner heat, people will tear their clothes and lie in sewage thinking it is water that will cool them. Kush users frequently fall into a deep sleep after smoking the drug, often falling asleep standing up, or sitting wherever… even in the middle of a busy street. In this deep sleep, many are beaten to death by others holding a grudge against them.

These short documentaries from BBC and Barrons contains disturbing content while depicting the reality of a kush addict’s life. Please use discretion while learning from them:



As we have been made increasingly aware of the problem of addiction in West Africa, our hearts break from the trauma addiction has been causing in this region.