Drug Addiction Threatens a Generation of Liberian Women


DRUG ABUSE among young people in Liberia’s 15 counties is sadly becoming an all-too-common problem. In Bong County, central Liberia, young people, including girls, are prime victims of drug abuse. Some addicts say they are determined to eventually get clean. But with substance abuse on the rise, that’s far easier said than done.

THE DANGERS of misuse and abuse of all kinds of drugs and mood-altering substances have become worrisome to stakeholders, including Jewel Howard-Taylor, first female vice president of Liberia.

DURING A VISIT to her native Bong County last year, Howard-Taylor slammed women who have fallen prey to drugs, saying the vulnerability of girls is not just to have them on drugs but to have them on drugs for the purpose of exploiting their sexuality.

SHE ALSO harped on marital negligence as cause of the menace. This, she said, has a more pronounced effect on the women.

“You find a husband who is not able to cater for his responsibility. You expect your husband to shelter you, clothe you – no friends, no job, stress, yet no care from their husbands. It’s more of circumstantial,” she said.

MORE YOUNG men and women are taking drugs, and the prevalence has become an epidemic that is destroying Liberian youths.

OFTENTIMES, young men and women are seen with bottles of soft drinks, but laced with all kinds of intoxicating content. They move about with the soft drink bottles and sip slowly for hours while unsuspecting members of the public would easily believe that it is mere harmless soft drink. 

THE AMOUNT of Liberian women on drugs exemplifies the serious drug addiction problem facing the country in many and the changing complexion of the war against drug use and addiction in the country.

AN INVESTIGATION by FrontPageAfrica shows that a great percentage of young women across the country, including students of tertiary institutions, working-class ladies, married women and a vast majority of unemployed girls, are hooked on drugs.

HOWEVER, they have rewritten the drug as the new high lies not in prohibited narcotic substances such as heroin, cocaine and tramadol, but in simple codeine, commonly found in cough syrups.

THE RISING DRUG use among young girls and women may be the fallout of increasing drug use among young men. However, the women, finding hard drugs like cocaine too strong and disruptive, have taken to “safer” “softer” drug such as codeine, which although is banned but is commonly found in cough syrup.

AT THE START of our investigation, it was thought that the problem was typical of Monrovia, but investigations showed that the drug problem could be even worse among women in Bong and other counties.

WHILE DRUG ABUSE, especially tramadol, has been a long-time problem among male youth in Monrovia, codeine cough syrup is the emerging cancer ravaging women and girls in other parts of the country.

SINCE MANY of the girls and women, including housewives, are neither career nor businesswomen, the habit is sustained by a legion of “boyfriends” who buy for them.

THE INCIDENCE of drug abuse among young girls in Liberia is frightening especially codeine cough syrups and over-the-counter drugs such as tramadol, and others.

WHILE THE ISSUE of drug abuse among young girls and women in Liberia is steadily gaining more attention, it is still underreported largely due to cultural constraints and societal discrimination against women and the dearth of national drug use surveys and other factual documentation regarding this issue in the country.

THE PROPENSITY for adolescent and young females to be exposed to and be affected by drugs demands the formulation of gender-sensitive drug policies and programs aimed at preventing and treating drug abuse among young girls and women.

USE OF DRUGS is by no means something that should be encouraged but again youths of all ages have always been drawn to drugs. 

THE PREVALENCE is always a cause for concern.