Dealing with drug addiction in Samoa

I am privileged today to give comments on behalf of our government and our leaders especially on a topic that has a big impact on health if we are not to address it now. 

The problems of drugs (illegal) is a global disaster and Samoa is no exception. The fact that it comes from a recreational aspect but negatively impacts health leading to overdose and loss of life. The rest you know it all.

Drugs are defined as “Chemical substance, such as a narcotic or hallucinogen, that affects the central nervous system, causing change in behavior and often addiction.”

Different illegal drugs have different effects on people and these effects are influenced by many factors. Illegal drugs are drugs which have limitation on their ownership or use by a government, and are illegal in certain situations (meaning a person is not allowed to have them). A drug is any chemical that affects the human body or mind when it is swallowed, breathed in, or consumed in another way.

Drug Addiction: Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. This brain change can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors. A drug addiction, a distinct concept from substance dependence, is defined as compulsive, out-of-control drug use, despite negative consequences. An addictive drug is a drug which is both rewarding and reinforcing.

A simple example of drug is alcohol.

Recognizing the Signs of Abuse and Addiction.

Drug abuse affects people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic statuses. Whatever the reason a person starts taking drugs, tolerance and dependency develop quickly, before the user even realizes the pattern of addiction taking hold. When tolerance becomes full-blown addiction, it can be extremely difficult to stop patterns of abuse.

The diminishing effects set in after the first time, and the user constantly tries to replicate the first high he or she gets from the drug by taking increasing amounts. This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to overdose.

Changes in appearance can be additional clues to possible drug use and may include:

• Bloodshot or glazed eyes.

• Dilated or constricted pupils.

• Abrupt weight changes.

• Bruises, infections or other physical signs at the drug’s entrance site on the body.

Disruption to normal brain functioning, changes in personality and heart and organ dysfunction can be signs of long-term drug abuse. Signs will vary based on substance.

Some of the most noticeable symptoms of drug abuse are those that affect the body’s inner workings. For example, your body’s tolerance to a drug occurs when a drug is abused for long enough that increased quantities or strengths are required to achieve the previous effects. This desire for a more intense high, achieved through these means, is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to overdose.

Behavioral Symptoms

Drug abuse negatively affects a person’s behavior and habits as he or she becomes more dependent on the drug. The drug itself can alter the brain’s ability to focus and form coherent thoughts, depending on the substance.

Change in behavior, such as the following, can indicate a problem with drug abuse.

• Increased aggression 

or irritability.

• Changes in attitude


• Lethargy.

• Depression.

• Sudden changes in a social network.

• Dramatic changes in habits and/or priorities.

• Financial problems.

• Involvement in criminal activity.

Learning to recognize the physical or behavioral signs of drug abuse can help prevent the problem from progressing further.

This is the first training toward dealing with drug addiction, rehabilitation and treatment for those who are being affected.

Treatment needs to be contextualized to include the social elements, i.e.; family, Christian beliefs and values, connections and support of the community and the church.

Counseling in the Samoan context extends beyond the office and one to one session; it encompasses the family, community and the church. It will be very difficult to exclude these stakeholders if the programme was to be successful.

Samoa’s national borders needed to be protected from drug smuggling. How can that happen, officers should learn how to track or identify that a person was smuggling hard stuff into or outside of Samoa.

Professional handling of the victims is paramount. The counselors should approach these cases in a professional manner.

I am glad that we are trained by the best, the USA is leading the WAR ON DRUGS and they have the latest research, technology, experience and know how.  Those who have been trained should now have the knowledge, skills and the courage to be brave enough to train others on how to deal with people with drug addiction.

You are now registered and qualified members of our Special Team to deal with the War on Drugs. Faafetai.

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