DRUG abuse can be catastrophic if it remains unabated as mortality can increase. The World Health Organisation estimates that in 2019, about 180 000 people lost their precious lives directly due to drug use disorders, while substance use was responsible for 11,8 million deaths in 2017.
What was thought to be a small issue, now seems to be creeping everywhere with numerous cases of illnesses, untoward behaviours, suicides, accidents and unnecessary deaths. Matutu (2019) states that the prevalence of drug abuse among young people in Zimbabwe is 57%, a figure which is quite alarming. If measures are not taken early.
I foresee many of our youths being in trouble from this medical calamity. Some drug abusers I have met are ignorant of the dangers of drug abuse. However, there are some who have pin-pointed peer pressure, social isolation, unemployment, poverty and spiritual warfare as the drivers of their drug abuse. Lack of family involvement in adolescent health and social affairs seems to be contributing to drug abuse with those youths getting hooked to friends who are later implicated on many illegal things.
The drug abusers can access anything that they think will keep them euphoric or sedated. Drugs such as Cannabis (mbanje), Kachasu, Musombo, Broncho, cocaine, diazepam, pethidine, morphine, promethazine, are some of the most used in our country. The effects are devastating with uncountable losses to society. It is sad that the abuse does not seem to be going downwards, instead, many people are now caught in the melee.
The uncontrolled availability of drugs in the streets is disturbing with all types of drugs being sold to the public without prescription. Antibiotics, hypnotics, sedatives and painkillers are everywhere in towns and cities. Mbare sells virtually all hospital drugs that range from diazepam, ketamine, propofol, lorazepam, chlorpromazine, promethazine, morphine and cannabis, some of which are stubborn in substance-induced psychosis.
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) should regulate the importation, distribution and sale of drugs, making sure that all drugs are registered in Zimbabwe. Pharmacists face stiff penalties if found in possession of unregistered or expired drugs.
That would be a very good thing, but hitting only pharmacies that are caught on the wrong side of the law while ignoring drug peddlers who openly sell drugs in the streets is tantamount to public health betrayal. Why do drug peddlers openly sell drugs in front of law enforcement agents who are supposed to arrest such dangerous criminals that have potential to contribute to increased mortality rates in the country.
Cases of organic psychosis are on the rise, thus putting an unnecessary strain on an already-burdened health delivery system. The young generation for sure needs help on this monstrous issue that is threatening to usurp life potential from our children. It is my belief that some of the following measures should be undertaken in order to stem drug abuse:Health education — Health education is important in order to boost protective factors and eliminate or reduce risk factors.
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Programmes can be designed for various ages and can be used for individual or group settings. These programmes can be universal programmes to dwell on factors affecting all children in a given setting like school or community, selective programmes for groups of teens or children who have specific factors and indicated programmes for the youths who have already started drug abuse.
Law enforcement agents should work tirelessly to destroy the drug networks. MCAZ should extend its feet to therapeutic drug peddlers who are everywhere in the cities and towns. Some of the drugs are smuggled into our country through our porous borders.
Why are we destroying our youths through corruption by allowing drug trafficking that will have long-lasting effects on our people? We need to guard against drug abuse in our communities. In some areas, the drug webs are known and they traverse from one end to another willy-nilly without anyone challenging them. We pray that police agents react accordingly and take appropriate action. Our justice system should work hand-in-glove with the police.
lSocial activities should be enhanced in order to keep youths busy. Such will include social games like soccer, netball, basketball and many more. It is prudent that talent identification be done from among these youths. Some are great soccer players or athletes, but are merely wasting their talent.
lRehabilitation centres for drug addicts are quite few in our country and the private sector can play a significant role in the establishment of such centres. It is difficult for an addict to abruptly stop drug abuse hence the need for rehabilitation at secluded places.
Countries like South Africa have many of these that include Houghton House Addiction and Mental Health centres, harmony clinics, Crossroads recovery centres and Healing Wings. We need such in Zimbabwe. Let us all flex our hands to annihilate drug abuse. Tomorrow it is your child who will be accused of rape, theft or murder because of drug abuse!