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Sierra Leone has declared a national emergency over a psychoactive drug made from human bones.

The country has witnessed a sharp spike in abuse of the drug, kush, forcing police officers to guard cemeteries in the capital of Freetown, to stop young men from digging up skeletons to get high. 

Kush is a drug made from a variety of substances, including toxic chemicals, herbs, cannabis, disinfenctant but one of its main ingredients is ground-up human bone, as they contain traces of sulphur, which allegedly can enhance the drugs effect. 

In a nationwide broadcast yesterday, Sierra Leone’s President Bio said: ‘Our country is currently faced with an existential threat due to the ravaging impact of drugs and substance abuse, particularly the devastating synthetic drug kush.’

Psychoactive drug made from HUMAN BONES that has seen addicts digging up GRAVES to get high leads to Sierra Leone declaring a national emergency – as ‘zombie’ narcotic sweeps through West Africa, killing a dozens a month

In a nationwide broadcast yesterday, Sierra Leone’s President Bio said: ‘Our country is currently faced with an existential threat due to the ravaging impact of drugs and substance abuse, particularly the devastating synthetic drug kush’. President Bio pictured in 2018

Although it's difficult to pinpoint the number of people affected, Sierra Leone's sole psychiatric hospital, a renovated facility from the British colonial era, is swamped with young addicts brought in by families desperate for help

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the number of people affected, Sierra Leone’s sole psychiatric hospital, a renovated facility from the British colonial era, is swamped with young addicts brought in by families desperate for help

Pictured: A man sleeps inside a drug den at the Kington landfill site in Freetown, in July 2023

Pictured: A man sleeps inside a drug den at the Kington landfill site in Freetown, in July 2023

Pictured: A woman sleeping while sat down in a Kush drug den in Freetown, in July 2023

Pictured: A woman sleeping while sat down in a Kush drug den in Freetown, in July 2023

Although there is no official death toll linked to kush abuse, one doctor from Freetown, told the BBC ‘in recent months’ hundreds of young men had died from organ failure caused by the drug. 

Between 2020 and 2023 admissions to the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital with illnesses linked to kush rose by almost 4000 per cent, with the vast majority being young men between the ages of 18-25.

It first emerged in Sierra Leone around six years ago and induces a long-lasting, hypnotic high which can detach users from reality for several hours.

It typically will cost only 20p per joint, although reports suggest that many spend as much as £8 per day on the drug, which is a huge sum considering the average income is just £400 per year.

Following this concerning rise, the president has set up a National Task Force on Drugs and Substance Abuse, which will mean having centres in every district which are ‘adequately staffed by trained professionals to offer care and support to people with drug addiction’.

Currently there is only one drug rehabilitation treatment centre in the whole country and that is in Freetown, but even that was only set up earlier this year and has just 100 beds.

On top of this police have been instructed to dismantle the drug supply chain through ‘investigations, arrests and prosecutions.’ 

Dr Abdul Jalloh, head of the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Hospital, said Mr Bio’s emergency declaration is ‘the right step’ and will be ‘crucial in addressing drug use’. 

Someone else who's seen the effects it has, added: 'Kush takes you to another world where you don't know yourself'

Someone else who’s seen the effects it has, added: ‘Kush takes you to another world where you don’t know yourself’

At 20p a joint, it's making terrible inroads among the young in a West African nation ranked among the world's poorest

At 20p a joint, it’s making terrible inroads among the young in a West African nation ranked among the world’s poorest

A new 'zombie' drug containing human bones is sweeping through Sierra Leone, killing two users each week - and leading dealers to rob graves to keep up with demand

A new ‘zombie’ drug containing human bones is sweeping through Sierra Leone, killing two users each week – and leading dealers to rob graves to keep up with demand

‘It signifies the prioritisation of resources, attention and intervention to combat this growing epidemic,’ he said.

One victim Abu Bakhar, 25, told Channel 4 News he gave up hopes of a music career as the drug turned him into a ‘zombie’.

He said: ‘Because of drugs I did not concentrate on studies. Because of drugs I did not concentrate on writing. Because of drugs I did not concentrate on anything’. 

Experts believe that the very high unemployment rate among the young is also compounding the problem. 

Like many others, he’s now homeless and lives on a landfill site on the outskirts of Freetown, amongst over a thousand others who reportedly live there.

Someone else who’s seen the effects it has, added: ‘Kush takes you to another world where you don’t know yourself.

‘It’s like it has something demonic in it. They see their friends and people around them dying and yet they still take it’.

However it is no longer just an issue in Sierra Leone, reports show it is moving acrosws West Africa with more than a million people in the urban areas of Liberia and Guinea addicted.

‘Kush is a very dangerous drug like heroin or cocaine, it’s strong, cheap and easily available, there is weak regulation and control over the sale of the drug and it’s becoming widespread in West Africa,’ said Dr Edward Nahim, a consultant psychiatrist at the Sierra Leone Psychiatric Teaching Hospital.

‘The lack of jobs and opportunities is a driving force leading many youths into drug addiction after the disruption of economies by the Covid pandemic.’



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