Helping Young People Overcome Addiction

Helping Young People Overcome Addiction

Series 2: I'm drowning in alcohol?

 In our second series of self-help aids for young people and adults to overcome addiction, Elisha Tumusiime offers some helpful insights about his observations in a case study about Uganda. Elisha is a young man volunteering with Smile Charity Uganda. He just completed a course in journalism but now wants to further his studies with theology. He has a passion for young people and especially teaching and influencing them to live their lives well and for Christ’s glory. Below are his words about the influence of alcohol on the young lives in Uganda.

One that starts as just a sip, maybe once a week eventually turns to heavy drinking, morning to evening and Monday to Sunday. Soon alcohol becomes your workmate without whom you cannot deliver well on your occupation.

In Uganda, liquor locally called waragi (the spirit type), is cheap or affordable even to the least earning grades of society. Therefore, you will find a taxi driver carrying with him a few packs. As he stops over to drop off passengers, he gulps a 100ml sachet sometimes with no one noticing. A Student will move to the library with a couple of sachets. As he grasps a sentence, it will follow a sip. This habit can now be seen among the young primary school going pupils.

Have you asked yourself why? We normally have reasons like “fitting in”, boredom, experimenting. But also it has been discovered that alcohol consumption in Uganda is high in rural communities and urban slums.

Men in rural areas do not go to gardens but spend their time in bars drinking on debt as their wives go on with the burden of providing for their families mainly gardening work or petty trade for those living in the city slums. At harvest time, they sell the yields and some of their income goes to pay back for their husbands’ drinking debts. Of course not at their own will but under threat from their husbands.

Due to the high demand women in slums venture in selling alcohol, a shop might lack essentials like sugar but alcohol is a common stock. The children helping their mothers will be tempted to taste what they sell. Years back, I visited my Uncle in the village, a cousin brother of whom we are the same age about 13 years then was already taking waragi from the mother's shop. He convinced me to try it but I would not because I feared sour things. He mixed it with juice, so I took some. Thank God, my visit did not last long so I survived the addition.

Of recent, my brother told me of a boy at their primary school who would pack waragi with him for break. I also remember a girl in high school who would go to the dining hall with waragi in a glass and the teachers thought it was water.

It sounded funny recently when CNN ranked Uganda as a leading country in Africa in alcohol consumption. However, it is not funny if you learn that Butabika psychiatric hospital treats over 5,000 cases related to alcohol abuse annually most of whom are youth. These young people are the fathers and mothers of tomorrow, some of them could be the doctors, lawyers, businesspersons and drivers of tomorrow.

We would not want to have children orphaned by drivers who drink and drive, we would not want to have useless doctors, lawyers, businesspersons among others because alcohol is a highly addictive depressant.

We would not love to have broken families in our nation.

I have highlighted the dangers of alcohol addiction and encouragement to avoid being hooked up. I hope that someone will offer practical steps to overcome the addiction for someone who is already deeply entangled with alcoholism. As for you young man, my advice is that you follow that old saying that “prevention is better than cure”.


Series 1: Porn is horning me?

If you have worked or interacted with young people you must have noticed a number of them struggling with the addiction to the evil of porn or at least some might have even sought some kind of help to overcome it.

If you were not an internet user, I would imagine you are seeing it in a book that just found its way to your reach, they usually do. I once found one left in a car that had been brought to our motor vehicle repair garage. The car was a used but freshly imported from Japan and the book could have belonged to the previous car owner. It contained colourful photos and the words were in Japanese so no one understood that. I can tell you we all had a long look before the book disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. Moreover, no one would guess the new owner just as no one had guessed the previous owner. But maybe you are seeing the kind in the dailies, weeklies, and monthlies or otherwise the variety of TV channels.

However, as I can guess you are an internet user who is attracted by poetic titles like the one I made for this article. Well, I could not pick the courage to get you an equally attractive photograph leave alone a selfie. The reason being that I want you to recover well and fully.

If you visited our Smile house and found that we were quite mean with our computers and WiFi it is because many young people were found to be abusing our resources to surf porn. Of course some of them were church boys and church girls – you know what I mean.

In our recently hosted youth holiday camp, the issue again came up. This time it was through sincere confessions from the participants. Again I can tell you that even the older generation including facilitators had confessions to make at least about their old past that they had recovered from. But how can you really recover from porn temptation and addiction since as we can conclude it is already getting harder to avoid unintentional exposure. The other question is how we can protect the younger generations from it.

Now this is obviously a subject of shame that could cause you and I to hide like Adam in the garden he rightfully owned. Yet our help comes from the scriptures that we are not ashamed of.

I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
(HCSB Free) Psalms 121:1-3

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, …For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
(ESV) Romans 1:16-17

“Beginning in Eden’s garden, freedom with God was traded for a dungeon. But Jesus came to ransom us from the dungeon. He plunged into our place, took our lust, immorality, and pornography use, and died with them under the wrath of God. Why? So that we could die with him and be raised to new life (Romans 6:6). But ancient powers whirl around you and your WiFi, hoping to distract you from the no-longer-dead Lord Jesus. Take these thoughts captive. Attack these temptations. The Internet is a cosmic battlefield. Grab your weapons.” – J. A. Medders

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
(ESV) Psalms 119:9

To begin with, say this prayer:

With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
(ESV) Psalms 119:10-16

If the Lord Jesus Christ fought against Satan’s temptations with the very words of God, you too can stand firm when you access the World Wide Web or any other form of media. However, remember that eventually, your actions should match your desires to overcome. You are God’s creation formed with the freedom of choice. Moreover, your choices determine your character – who you are. Determine what takes up your time and what occupies your mind and thoughts.

Five ICBMs against porn

What is an ICBM? It is an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Below are just a few of them. You can find numerous more in the Bible.

  1. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
    (ESV) 2 Corinthians 5:9

God demands our love for Him because He first loved us. The first of the Ten Commandments is centred on this and so is the first of the two commandments the Lord Jesus Christ gave as a summation of all the commandments that guide God’s people. – Mark 12:29

  1. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
    (ESV) Romans 8:12-15

One of the struggles Paul wrestled with and confessed about was the two opposite forces between his flesh (body) and his spirit (will). On one hand he sought to follow what he knew was right but admitted the withholding power of fleshly desires. Howbeit, the flesh of a believer is to live in suppression of the spirit and not the other way round.

  1. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
    (ESV) Ephesians 5:3-4

This is a very much-needed ICBM in the modern generation where every minority group that is so engrossed in habitual sin that is against the laws of God and the morality of humankind seeks to be socially respected and allowed to continue in the same.

  1. For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    (ESV) Galatians 5:1

To live in sin is to live in slavery. Everything your conscience struggles with is a form of enslavement. Thanks be to Christ who bore all on the cross that we be redeemed. Are you? If you are not, your own efforts are only futile and there is no grace for you. Think about it!

  1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
    (ESV) Romans 8:1-4

Do not take God’s grace through Jesus Christ’s atoning work for granted. But thank God that all your sins are forgiven in Christ alone. There is no better sacrifice that the one without sin, blemish or defect died for your sins that your fellowship with the Lord is restored eternally. “It is finished” – John 19:30


Silver Brown, the writer of this article is a volunteer administrator and social worker at Smile Charity Uganda. If you enjoyed and/or was helped by this article, please find it a joy to support his work at Smile Charity Uganda to empower more young people in need. A gift as big as $5 will help host (meals for) another young person for a day during the next camp.

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