Imran Dhannoo, who is in charge of the Dr Idrice Goomany Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Alcoholism and Drug, explained that “there are different types of drugs ranging from those of natural origins to those made from chemical substances. There are licit as well as illicit drugs.” He pointed out that drug addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder characterised by compulsive drug use.
When it comes to a review of the year 2017 in terms of the drug situation in Mauritius, the social worker stated that at the level of the Dr Idrice Goomany Centre, they have noted that there are more and more youths consuming illicit drugs.
“These drugs include brown sugar (adulterated form of heroin), subutex and New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), which are better known as synthetic drugs in Mauritius. The drug consumers are thus getting younger and younger.” He estimated that there are around 10,000 to 12,000 PWID (people who inject drugs) in Mauritius.
He has also observed that the drug issue is no more just an urban phenomenon. “People in every nook and corner of Mauritius are affected by drugs,” he states. Moreover, the social worker observed that drugs are more and more associated with sex among the youth.
“This mainly concerns males. They take drugs as they want to improve their sexual performance.” Another factor contributing to the increase of drug consumption among the youth, explains Imran Dhannoo, is the accessibility and price.
“Drugs are easily accessible today and the price also attracts the youth. For example, a pocket of synthetic drugs (cannabinoid analogues) will cost only Rs 100 whereas a ‘pouliah’ of weeds will cost thrice. So the young consumers can pool their resources to procure a pocket of synthetic drugs.”
Imran Dhannoo claimed that the new generation is a generation which is fond of getting high. “For example, one of the cases we’ve dealt with at the centre was a drug addict aged 13, who had already been exposed to the world of drugs for some years. That is, he started early by consuming licit drugs like cigarettes and alcohol when he was only 9 years old and switched to illicit drugs as from the age of 13.”
The social worker added that there is also an abuse of some pharmaceutical products. “These are controlled medication but they are still available on the black market. Consumers take these products as they are sought for the sedation effect.
Commenting on the Commission of Inquiry on Drugs, Imran Dhannoo pointed out that the ‘Lam Shang Leen’ Commission has been an eye-opener for Mauritians. “The Mauritian society has become conscious of the drug plague affecting our country.
In addition, there has been a showcase of the issue with the different institutions.” However, he underlined, the report which will be published by the Commission should not stay at ground level. “The implementation of the report is crucial”, he trusts.