Monrovia - The National Oil Company has presented a check of US$100,000 to the Liberia Center for Outcome Research in Mental Health (LICORMH) as support to government, in an effort to reduce drug addiction and substance use disorder in Liberia.
The money has been provided in partnership with TGS NOPEC’s an oil exploration company exploring Liberia for oil in commercial quantity.
The US$100K project will be implemented in Montserrado and Margibi Counties. According to NOCAL the objectives of the project is among many things to address the rising rates of addiction in Liberia through provider capacity development.
The project aims to train a cadre of addiction specialist in Liberia, build a multi-specialty center for mental health disorders and addiction that includes short-term crisis stabilization and treatment, and preventing the primary and secondary substance use disorders and addiction among adolescents and young adults.
The rationale of the project according Mr. Ambulah Mamey NOCAL’s Public education officer is to develop a short term plan to address issues of substance use disorders in Liberia.
He said currently there is no specialized center in Liberia to offer complete standardized treatment for persons with substance use disorders (PSUD).
Mr. Mamey believes Liberia’s weak law enforcement capacity, porous border control and proximity to major drugs transit routes contributes to an uptick in drug trafficking to and through Liberia.
“The number of addicts and people with substance use disorder in Liberia keep increasing."
"There is very limited scientific and evidence based approach to treatment, care and reduction and prevention,” he said.
Mr. Mamey claims that repeated efforts by the Liberian National police to raid addicts and drugs user off the streets has failed to adequately address the problem because the approach is wrong.
“The lack of specialized center in Liberia that offers evidence-based standardized treatment for people with addiction problems has been another major challenge,” he added.
Liberia has one psychiatric hospital that provides treatment to persons with mental health and substance use disorder, and he believes that center has limited accommodation.
“The project is linked to the government of Liberia’s National Mental Health Policy and strategic plan which calls for the construction of wellness units in the 15 counties.
Under this project one wellness unit will be constructed and furnished,” he added.
The project provides short-term crisis stabilization and treatment for people with mental illness and will also train 10 addiction specialists to international standard, thus increasing the number of the internationally certified addiction specialist in country.
Drugs addicts (Zogos or Zogese) as they are commonly called occupy a unique place in Liberian history and in our contemporary national life.
The legacy of the civil war and the discrimination and stigma that they continue to face is a stark reminder of their lowly social and economic standing in Liberian society.
Clearly, numerous studies have continued to link mental health problems and the risk of suicide as well as alcohol and drug use disorders.
In the case of Zogos, it is fair to say that no such evidence exist of their mental illness, although their possible drug use and alcohol abuse and the linkages to mental health issues is inferred.
This does not excuse people in the general Liberian population who themselves are at risk of suicide given the pervasive use of illicit substances in the society, and the unresolved traumas from the war and other incidents of violence and communal deaths.
But here, the focus is on Zogos given that they are understudied and their lowly socioeconomic status, which explains the gross neglect that they face.
The death of Zogos and Zogese in Greater Monrovia and Harbel respectively, possibly as a result of suicide could mean that the society has a looming epidemic on its hands.
The time has come for the society to ask: Why are many Zogos dying from a possible suicidal fate?