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Youths Resort to Paspalum in the New Wave of Substance Abuse in Teso

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Joseph Owona, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Specialists in Soroti, says he has handled at least three cases of young people with mental disorders resulting from smoking Paspalum. He notes that effects of using smoking Paspalum are more worrying than Marijuana and other substances.
Joseph Owona

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A number of young people in Teso sub region have resorted to smoking Dallis grass popularly referred to as paspalum as cases of substance abuse soar in the region. Paspalum is grown mostly in schools and public places to provide safe ground for games.

The youth aged 16- 30, mainly high school students and unemployed now find it easy to cut, dry and grind Paspalum for smoking. Some cases of smoking Paspalum have been recorded at the Psychiatric Unit in Soroti Regional Referral Hospital.

Joseph Owona, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Specialists in Soroti, says he has handled at least three cases of young people with mental disorders resulting from smoking Paspalum. He notes that effects of using smoking Paspalum are more worrying than Marijuana and other substances.

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Substance abuse and over consumption of alcohol especially waragi are causing a huge toll of mental illness among the youths in Teso Sub Region, according to medics in Soroti. Records from Soroti Regional Referral Hospital indicate at least six new patients reporting alcohol and substance abuse every month. Alcohol and substance abuse is the second largest cause of mental illness admissions at the Psychiatric Unit in Soroti Regional Referral Hospital after epilepsy.

Owona explains that much as epilepsy is the leading cause of mental disorder in the unit, alcohol and substance abuse present worrying trends. He notes that young people report stress reduction and energy boost as some of the reasons for engaging in substance abuse. He revealed that Ngora takes a lead in substance abuse followed by Serere, Soroti, Katakwi and Amuria districts respectively.

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One of the psychiatric patients in Soroti confided to URN that he started using Paspalum through the influence of his boss. “We deal in heavy stuff like loading and offloading merchandize in town. When I appeared for the job at first, my boss told me that I was too weak to manage his work. 

He later introduced me Paspalum since Marijuana was expensive for me. I later got addicted to the substance but my family kept nagging me over it and I became restless until I was admitted here”, he told URN. Michael Odongo, the East Kyoga Police Spokesman, says they have not yet received any complain over the use of Paspalum since it’s not categorized under narcotics. 

Owona recommends some research on Paspalum as young people venture into it.