Throughout the narrative, Beah describes the systematic use of illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine and how these drugs are linked to violence.
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Beah is ripe for indoctrination into the government military structure. He is taken to a government camp and treated well at first; however, it becomes clear that the government is facing too strong an opposition in the RUF and must now recruit boys into its army. As part of their conditioning, the boys are given drugs (cocaine and marijuana), fed a steady diet of American action films (such as Rambo: First Blood), and rewarded for finding the most efficient way to kill an enemy. The boys are given drugs to make them feel invincible in battle. They become addicted to these drugs, which subjugates them even more to their military commanders.