Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Parenting Skills for Parents and Guardians of children who Abuse Drugs and Substances

Marijuana: a commonly used drug in Malawi
By Mabhuchi Nyasulu*

Out of ten children and young adults who abuse drugs and alcohol, more than half are victims of malnutrition.  

My own experience recalls a lethargic feeling of craving for marijuana the first thing when I woke up in the morning. I hardly ate, sleep, work or do anything without smoking. An awesome feeling of wanting to be alone and loneliness engulfing my sorrows was the order of the day. I shunned my parents and lived in isolation from February 2004 – May 2013. A feeling of self-independence obsessed me as I consumed cannabis fire but alas! Life was not easy as I thought.

It is my desire for parents who live with children who abuse drugs to handle the challenges that surround them. The following are useful tips, which could assist parents handle children with addiction.

  • It is essential for children who abuse drugs and alcohol to eat food that has taken time to be prepared. Children of middle class can afford to eat four meals per day. Nevertheless, children of bottom class hierarchy there is need to diversify their diet. Common drugs in Malawi like Cannabis sativa (Marijuana) increases a user’s appetite and makes addicts to eat hungrily. Parents or guardians ought to be mobilized to prepare time consuming food like beans, pigeon peas and various legumes. It is hard to handle those who abuse drugs and substances and it is even harder when such people are hungry and starving.
  •    When parents do household chores and eat together, it encourages children who abuse drugs and alcohol to find the meaning and value to surrender to sober habits. Parents can invite a family friend to join a get together on a variety of well-cooked assorted food stuffs with optimum salt and little or no spices.
  • Parents/guardians should let their children contribute in the shopping of items in their homes. Children who are addicted to drugs and substances are usually suspicious to rejection if they do not contribute their ideas. No matter how much insensible a request that an addicted child makes, they ought to be guided by a counsellor to respond positively to the child.
  • Parents/guardians are reminded not to forget their children’s birthday, especially if they abuse drugs and substances. Let perfumes, sprays, deodorants and refreshing cleaning utensils like toothbrush be part of celebrated gifts. I recommend if parents could serve to communicate and elaborate to their child who is struggling with craving the favourite menu they enjoy as a couple.

I would like to see every parent/guardian taking part in Parental forums, community discussion groups and adhering to the National Alcohol Policy in Malawi. It is possible for children who abuse drugs and substances to surrender to sober habits. What is important is to know what to do and being sensitive is also key. 

For more information, listen to ‘Total Turn Around’ Radio Programme on YFM every Saturday from 07:10 pm to 08-00 pm. You can also call YONECO’s Drug and Substance Toll Free Helpline on 6600. 

*Mabhuchi Nyasulu is a counsellor in Drug and Substance Helpline section and a presenter of Total Turn Around Radio Programme 

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