Support for Addiction and Prevention in Africa
Addiction Prevention Workshops and Programs
Brain Development, Mood Altering Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS
In 2009 four 2-day workshops were held with approximately twenty-five participants per session. Participants included out of school youth, HIV/AIDS peer educators and some recovering young teenage alcoholics. Initially only one workshop was scheduled, but on the request of government officials and program participants, an additional three sessions were added.
The group freely discussed a wide range of issues including:
Why is the adolescence brain different from that of an adult?
- Over the course of the sessions 95 teenagers reported they became empowered to: Resist peer influence that may get into consumption of mood altering drugs.
Economic, Education and Social Empowerment Opportunities
Participants also said that there is considerable misinformation about consumption of mood altering drugs. Most prevalent is the belief that marijuana will enhance brain function and improve performance. The participants agreed that more education and outreach is clearly necessary.
PREVENTION AWARENESS GROUP
* Create awareness among the risky population (alcohol using HIV/AIDS persons, female commercial sex workers, bar patrons, and out of school youth) about the risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse in respect to HIV/AIDS;
164 high-risk individuals including commercial sex workers, cart pullers, spouses of alcoholics and out of school youth from three villages participated in two 8-week phases over 6 months.
The adult groups discussed helping participants improve their communication skills, understand the addiction process and its influences on family dynamics; and improve their understanding on the relationships between HIV/AIDS and substance abuse disorders. Discussion topics in the youth groups included improving the understanding of the risks associated with teenage drinking, improving their level of resistance to negative peer influences, how to avoid risky sexual behaviors and ways in which they can use their social ties to bring about positive peer influence.
These youth participants learned avoidance of risky sexual behaviors and increased capacity to handle addiction problems among close relatives and spouses as well as gained on self-esteem. Twenty-eight participants sought voluntary testing for HIV/AIDS. The adult participants expressed appreciation for the parenting skills and communication skills taught. All members gained a sense of community through helping neighbors in the door to door HIV/ drugs awareness campaigns.
Group female participants from the Gatwekera adult group self-organized and formed a Substance Use Disorders (SUD) intervention group which sought out drug addicts and encouraged them join the SAPTA NGO outpatient program. Enrollment in the SAPTA NGO outpatient program and related community recovery support systems such as AA and the PLW-HIV support groups grew nearly 50 percent in 2009.