Adam Durnham`

by Adam Durnham`


Mission to Uganda: Helping Heal Widespread Addiction

Mission to Uganda: Helping Heal Widespread Addiction

In its urban populations, Uganda has one of the highest per capita rates of drug and alcohol addiction in the entire sub-Saharan region. Since it is difficult to determine the prevalence of addiction in far-flung rural areas, there are only estimates about how high the country's actual rate may be.


Adding to the problem is some societal beliefs in Uganda and other places. Some people do not consider alcohol consumption to be a problem or a disorder that requires treatment. People who are suffering from alcohol addiction may be unlikely to seek treatment because they do not believe that their alcohol use is a problem that needs correction. They may also fear facing the cultural stigmas associated with addiction and with seeking help.  If you are an addiction treatment expert who is considering becoming involved in treatment missions, Uganda is a country that may need your help.


Uganda’s Problems with Addiction


Unlike addiction treatment in First World countries such as the United States, the treatment resources in Third World countries are limited. Fortunately, there are several rehabilitation volunteer programs that allow professionals to go abroad to treat drug and alcohol addiction. The need for education that will help people understand addiction and move beyond limiting beliefs about addiction treatment is paramount.


According to Uganda’s Ministry of Health, alcoholism is one of the top causes of psychiatric problems in Uganda. It also contributes to the poverty rate because substance abuse may make it difficult for sufferers to work or maintain employment. Even if they can manage employment, they may spend a substantial amount of their earnings on alcohol instead of essentials.


Along with the erroneous belief that alcoholism is a curable health problem, there are not sufficient resources to treat people with addictions in Uganda. Unfortunately, Uganda’s cultural beliefs sometimes conflict with other beliefs about addiction, creating shame and stigmas that further alienate addicted people and prevent them from seeking help.


Since there is a lack in public education in the country and the Ugandan government does not regulate substances such as alcohol, stronger actions are needed. A study about alcoholism in Uganda reported that 55 percent of respondents did not seek treatment for their alcoholism because they did not think it was a treatable problem. Other respondents refused treatment out of shame or for other reasons.  


The Effects of War and Poverty on Addiction


Poverty and addiction are pressing social issues in many countries, including Uganda. In addition to poverty, the nation faces widespread social and economic issues, including unemployment and illiteracy.


Uganda is still dealing with the fallout from war and invasion by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA subjected the people of the region to rampant, indiscriminate violence and oppression. Murder, rape, enslavement, and forced military service for children in the area was common.


Without adequate resources to cope with the unspeakable things that happened to them, some people have sought to handle their trauma in any way possible, including using alcohol to numb their pain. The war left people mutilated, traumatized, and orphaned. Although Uganda is making some inroads to recovery, much still needs to be done to address the war’s devastating effects on the people of the country.


Since there is a lack of public knowledge about addiction, education is essential to encourage addicted individuals to seek treatment. People have not considered alcohol consumption to be a treatable problem in Uganda. Not enough attention has focused on the devastating impact alcohol may have on specific communities, such as pregnant women.


Volunteers talk with people in communities and schools to educate them about addiction and make them aware of options that are available to them. The ability to communicate key information in an easy-to-understand and creative way is an asset.     


The Value of Volunteering in Uganda


If you are seeking a picturesque country with a host of geological wonders, Uganda is your place. Within its borders, the country contains broad savannas, dense forests, and majestic mountain ranges. The country is one of the few places where people can see the endangered gorilla. Visiting Uganda gives people the chance to see these majestic creatures up close in their natural habitat.


By nature, Ugandans are warm and welcoming people who go out of their way to make visitors feel at home. Hospitality is cultural. Activities to enjoy in Uganda include hiking and bungee jumping. The cuisine is also delicious and there are many restaurants to enjoy excellent local fare. 


The Importance of Sharing Your Skills with Those in Need


You have training and skills that can help educate and assist people who are struggling with alcohol and drug addictions. Joining a mission may help you share your talents and compassion with people who may need information and treatment.


Consider contributing to the important work of healing the devastating addiction problems in other countries. If you are looking for a way to make a difference and use your education, training, and experience, helping fight addiction in Uganda may be a good option for you.


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