By Johannes Marisa
IT was just last week when my brother-in-law went missing for two days in Norton, only to be found drowsy in the bush alone.
At first, we thought he had been kidnapped only to realise that he was down with marijuana.
Drug abuse is a reality that is threatening everyone.
The 23-year-old man is now losing his mental function with episodes of both visual and auditory hallucination, catatonic stupor and poor cognitive function.
Drug abuse is directly and indirectly responsible for over 750 000 deaths per year with more than 166 000 people dying from drug overdoses.
Addiction to tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines and other drugs inflicts a massive toll on the world, measurable in terms of illnesses, deaths, social and economic costs.
According to National Library of Medicine (2019), United States of America report approximately 40 million drug-related illnesses and injuries each year.
The economic burden of addiction is estimated at greater than US$400 billion each year, including healthcare costs, lost productivity and crime.
The social costs to families and communities are just unbearable
Zimbabwe is not spared by drug abuse. Many youths have turned to drug abuse and its a pity that lives are lost daily, injuries are occurring daily while cognitive function is gradually depleted.
Drug abuse has been aggravated lately by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic that has left many people stressed.
Schools were closed for a long time while many companies were forced to close operations, thus increasing unemployment rate in the country.
It has become fashionable in some locations to use drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, musombo, twumbwa, sodium polyacylate (from diapers) and alcohol.
The effects are devastating.
Many reasons are given for drug abuse with some pointing fingers at family history, disjointed families, stress, peer pressure, unemployment, ignorance.
It is time the nation stood up against drug abuse if we are to progress because the generational threat is real.
No country can develop when the youths are indulging in such calamitous drug abuse.
The consequences are serious and many lives are lost unnecessarily each and everyday.
The other effect is road traffic accidents which are occurring everyday and one wonders if drivers will not be under the influence of drugs.
Depression, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide and suicide are some of the consequences that can be averted.
Government is equally worried about the drug abuse scourge and Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro requested everyone to flex their muscles if the country is to win the war against drug abuse.
The lackadaisical attitude that we exhibit in combating the scourge will backfire for everyone in the country.
Our children face a godawful future if the drug abuse plague is allowed to continue.
No one should celebrate such practice.
It is thus imperative that all stakeholders work together in a bid to avert the practice for the benefit of the nation. Action can be taken to alleviate the drug quagmire:
Education on the effects of drugs on health, society and the nation at large.
Mass media campaigns against drug abuse should be rolled out nationally.
Mubatirapamwe Trust, a registered organisation based in Hillside Harare, has social workers who move around disseminating information about drug abuse and identifying victims that need help.
It is a pity that alcohol is advertised in Zimbabwe as an inspirational lifestyle and its consumption is promoted as normal and glamorous which is not true.
Law enforcement agents should clamp down on all drug syndicates and deterrent punishment should be meted out by the Judiciary in order to reduce the supply of the drugs on the informal market.
Many people actually know the sources or suppliers of dangerous drugs in the communities but they are walking scot-free, continuing to wreak havoc in society.
Industrialisation is important in order to increase employment rate as many drug addicts claim they have nothing to do, hence, the urge to resort to drugs.
In essence, the economic environment should be improved so that our youths are gainfully employed.
Job creation is vital.
Youths should be kept busy at all costs.
Rehabilitation of the affected people should be done as a matter of urgency and that calls for the establishment of drug rehabilitation centres which are unfortunately very few in Zimbabwe.
The private ones are expensive hence many people cannot afford to send their children to such homes.
Government can chip by establishing such centres in the country.
More psychologists and psychiatrists will be required, which calls for increased enrolment at the medical schools.
It all begins with you.
Make sure you shun drug abuse.
Your health is of concern to everyone.
The scourge is moving like whirlwind.
Let us stop drug abuse!