15- year- old Ma Julia of Logan Town Community on Bushrod Island is said to be a public drug addict. But unlike many teenage girls addicted to narcotics in the Liberian society, Julia wants help to enable her get out of the bad habit.
“Two years ago, I decided that it was time for me to make a big decision and that decision was to begin smoking what is commonly known as ‘weed or marijuana’. I chose to do it on my own; no one forced it on me. I had already lost my virginity and just felt like adding the weed there as well”, Ma Julia said abruptly.
According to the bashful teenager, who bent her head low throughout an in terview with this paper, she finds pleasure in taking in weed because of the mental effect that it has on her. “It helps me to think big and to have the guts to do what I needed to do to take care of myself”, she explained.
Living with her father whom she claimed is not serious about her education; Ma Julia is presently out of school, a situation she has been in since she started living on the streets off and on. “My father is just giving birth to plenty children, so now I don’t go to school anymore”, she said in irritation.
Due to lack of parental guidance, young Ma Julia said she is on her own. “Sometimes I sleep with men for money to live and sometimes they give me drugs and money without having sex with them”, she disclosed.
Male addicts who stood along and watched the young girl talked to this paper, asked her several times during the course of the interview to follow them to an area known as ‘Gap’ where they take narcotics. “Yes, I smoke drugs and weed, but I don’t smoke the drugs too much”, she horridly clarified.
Realizing the danger of drug addiction, Ma Julia in a rather serious mood said she wants to get out of such lifestyle, believing that it is not too late to do so. “I wouldn’t encourage any of my friends to take drugs. What! It’s not good, dah bad thing,” she emphasized.
Speaking of ways that could help her get off the street, the teenager mentioned going back to school as her main option. “I want to live a good or better life and I know there is a need for me to change before that can happen. I need someone to help me change and go back to school”, she added with hope.
At the same time, a 48-year-old man only identified as AB who claimed to have been in the streets for the last 20 years said he has been a drug addict throughout those years. “I don’t steal nor commit crime to support my habit, but I won’t lie, my life is not good”, he narrated as a group of addicts begin to surround our reporter.
Born in Mali, AB narrated that after coming to Liberia, he was immediately introduced to a famous drug called ‘brown brown’ by some addicts. “My habit was around LD100 a day, now it has doubled”, he disclosed.
According to him, drugs make him feel good. “If I don’t take it in a day or so, my joints begin to hurt and get weak, so I need it”, he said.
In spite of constant arrests and hospital visits, the addict was bold to have said that he is unable to leave drugs alone. Only a center can help me leave it right now, but I can’t be on the streets and say I’m going to leave it”, he indicated.
As several addicts began to swarm the interview room with curious questions and hopes of getting money, another addict, Alexander Vatiye Vakon, made it clear that the issue of drugs in the country is major and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf needs to focus on how to address it.
“The youths outweigh the elders in Gaps, they are taking it more. If you come out here after 12am you would see so many youths sleeping on the streets at night or in Gaps getting high. We need a solution, we need a rehabilitation center and we need it now,” he said.