When I first heard the term, I could not contain my laughter. I thought the Community Based Volunteer (CBV) was joking. I’m quite certain a few of you may be wondering why I am not getting to the point already. First of all, this is not your typical jungle. It is not what the dictionary defines as “an area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation, typically in the tropics.” That is what came to mind first. Instead of dense forest, this jungle has human beings, in the place of tangled vegetation, there are all sorts of illegal drugs found in this jungle. This is what the CBV was trying to tell me. Even more scary, the jungle has a chairman. The drugs found in the jungle range from marijuana, to cocaine to codeine to other controlled and/or illegal substances.
Apparently, the jungle is a well known place. There are all kinds of people in the jungle. Some of them have had formal education, others have not. Some have families, others do not. It is a community of one thing and one thing only - illegal drugs. A lot of those that are found in the jungledo not have regular incomes or even any forms of income at all. Most of them are between the ages of 19 and 44 years old. This is worrisome as these are the productive members of society. Needless to say, substance abuse is on a steady rise in the country and the ease with which people can access the drugs is alarming. There are even registered pharmacies that have a backdoor and sell controlled drugs to anyone that would ask and pay.
The jungle is only one place. There is a myriad of such places all over the capital. Sometimes when you stop at a traffic light, a person may approach slowly and whisper if you want ‘Tuxil C’. It is a legitimate drug for coughs and colds. However, it is abused so much that it is in the same category as Codeine.
I did a bit of research and discovered there are jungles all over the capital. Sometimes, the police raid them but they still come back. Perhaps people know the dangers of taking illegal drugs, perhaps the dangers are acceptable depending on what the users are trying to get away from or numb. As our regular readers would know, illegal drugs can have dire consequences not just physically but also mentally. There are terms such as drug induced schizophrenia, korsakoff syndrome (alcohol induced), depression and yes, even jail time.
I recall a story of a lady that seemingly had all it together but was taking illegal drugs to keep up the charade of being the perfect mother, wife, sister, daughter, business woman and friend. One day, she could not take it anymore and ended it all. Other people’s situations may not be as dire as this woman’s, but if you find yourself in the jungle, please do not hesitate to ask for help. You would be surprised at the help that is available. Be a beacon of hope for others - pave the way.
Written by Zunzika Thole - Okpo.