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Botswana Alcohol Aids Project

Substance Abuse in Botswana

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Alcohol is the most heavily used Substance in Botswana. Dagga (Pot) is second but the ratio of use is about 95% Alcohol and 4% Pot with Other Drugs like Ecstacy & Glue at about 1%.

One approach to prevention in Botswana begins by targeting gateway behaviors like Cigarette smoking. Prevention and treatment efforts must also address a severe lack of life skills and a high degree of emotional immaturity in both youth and adults alike.

Adding teaching, in elementary school and continuing through secondary school, on Substances and HIV/AIDS as well as experiential Life Skills training can begin to reduce both HIV/AIDS,Alcohol/Other Drug abuse and other dysfunctional behaviors currently rampant within the adult population. Given that the Teachers are also lacking in life skills and are emotionally immature, significant experiential training must be introduced into the Teacher Training Curriculums.

Addictive Behavior is about a mood change.

Everyone uses activities intended to change our mood (praying, taking a walk, going to the movies, calling a friend, etc). The key is whether or not the action chosen is, in any way, destructive to me and/or others.

Chemical addicts have learned that chemicals (Alcohol and/or other Drugs) provide an instant mood change - viola I take a drink/drug, I feel different. They have also decided that certain feelings, i.e., hurt, anxiety, sadness, boredom, etc. are to be avoided or changed and have learned that the quickest way to do that is with Alcohol or other Drugs. If this behavior is begun in the teenage or earlier years the emotional maturation process is effectively interrupted and slows to a crawl.

This is a learned behavior that is not yet physical addiction. The structure of the cells has not yet been altered and physical addiction has not yet occurred. The pre-addict is learning to choose behaviors that will ultimately produce physical addiction. At the point of physical addiction the choice to use is essentially gone and now the addict is using because he/she is physically addicted and needs the drug of choice to avoid/mitigate physical and psychological withdrawal.

If the addict has spent several (many) years learning to avoid/mitigate feelings and is deprived of the major means of doing so (the drug), other substitutive behaviors will emerge which are intended to do the job (change feelings; eating, gambling, sex, relationships, acting out anger, video games, excessive busyness, etc., etc.

I find it essential to remember that brain damage from chemical usage is a proven reality. The cognitive process is impaired. The ability to reason and to make sound judgments is impaired and takes time to heal. Research indicates that the brain damage healing can take up to 11 years with most of that healing occurring in the first 1-2 years. This reality forces us to be realistic in our expectations of the addict in treatment and in early (1st two years) recovery.

Addictive behavior is not confined to chemical addiction. These thinking, attitude and behavior patterns are evident whether the client is choosing to use chemicals, gambling, food, etc. to find a mood change.

Emotional responsibility becomes a key point. Who is responsible for my feelings? I am.

If I am making me feel as I feel by my thinking and understanding, and behavior then I can change that. If I believe that you are making me feel as I feel then I've got a problem because I don't have the power to change you nor the right to tell you to be different.

Recovering persons must learn the fundamental truth that each of us is responsible for our feelings not others.

In general, people in recovery report an improved quality of life 12 months after getting abstinent and beginning recovery:

* More than 70 percent of individuals in recovery report having improved relationships with their spouse or significant other.
* Eighty percent report better family relationships and an ability to better handle problems.
* More than 80 percent report an improvement in their mental health.

The number of people terminated from their job after receiving treatment dropped 200 percent as compared to the number of those terminated before treatment.

There is a high correlation between attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and abstinence. Of those who attend such meetings, 63 percent reported being abstinent.














Brain Damage

Emotional Recovery

Alcohol's Harmful Effects

Pot (Dagga) Harmful Effects

Copyright 2004, Botswana Alcohol Aids Project - Jim MacDonald Webmaster. Contact Jim at djm@paonline.com