Is unemployment really the issue here?


MEDIA reports state that at least 40% of new admissions at Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo are young male drug abusers with authorities calling for immediate action as the situation is getting out of control.

The psychiatric hospital admits at least 50 patients per month.

Ingutsheni Central Hospital, which is one of the country’s biggest referral psychiatric medical centres, said if society does not act now, the country could lose a number of youth to drugs.

Clinical director Wellington Ranga said if the drug problem is a war, the country is losing it.

Many are falling victim to drug abuse and the question is: Is unemployment really the issue here?

Youth who are not employed, but have access to drugs may be at risk of developing substance abuse problems and other negative tendencies.

Lack of employment opportunities and financial resources can contribute to hopelessness and low self-esteem, which may lead some individuals to turn to drugs as a way of coping with their circumstances.

In addition, access to drugs can lead to experimentation, regular use and dependency, which can have a range of negative physical and mental health consequences, apart from psycho-social damage.

Regular drug abuse can impair cognitive functioning, disrupt normal brain development, and increase the risk of accidents, injuries and many other health complications.

It is important for individuals who are struggling with addiction to seek support while they can, whether from friends and family, community or professional treatment services.

Psycho-social support can help individuals overcome addiction, develop healthy coping strategies, and build positive relationships and connections with others.

There can be several reasons why some youth who are unemployed afford drugs. Here are a few possible explanations:

Financial support from family and friends

Some youth may receive financial support from family members or friends, which allows them to purchase drugs even if they are not employed.

Involvement in illegal activities: Some youth may engage in illegal activities such as drug dealing, theft or prostitution in order to raise money to purchase drugs.

Prioritising drugs over other needs: Some youth may prioritise drugs over other needs such as food, housing, or bills. This can lead to financial instability and many other negative consequences.

Access to free or low-cost drugs: Some youth may have access to free or low-cost drugs through their social networks or drug-related activities such as parties.

Regardless of how they are able to afford drugs, it is important for these youth to seek help to address their substance abuse issues. This may include seeking treatment, connecting with support groups, or accessing other community resources.

With the right help and support, it is possible to overcome addiction and lead a healthy, fulfilling life.

Preventing youth from prioritising drugs over other expenses can be a complex issue, but there are several strategies that can be effective in reducing the likelihood of this happening.

Here are a few suggestions: Increase access to employment opportunities: Providing youths with access to employment opportunities that can help them have not only financial independence but an occupation, as well as reduce the likelihood of prioritising drug purchase over other expenses. This can include vocational training programmes, job placement services and other employment support programmes.

 Provide financial education and support: Providing financial education and support can help youths develop the skills and knowledge they need to manage their finances effectively. This can include budgeting, saving, and other financial planning strategies.

Increase access to affordable housing: Providing affordable housing options can help reduce the financial burden on youths, which can reduce the likelihood of prioritising drug abuse (as an option) over other needs.

 Increase access to education and training: Providing access to education and training programmes can help youth develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workplace and achieve financial stability.

Increase awareness on the risks of drug use: Increasing awareness on the risks and negative consequences of drug use can help deter youths from prioritising drug abuse. This can include educational programmes, public awareness campaigns, and other efforts to promote drug-free lifestyles.

Increase access to support and resources: Providing youths with access to support and resources such as counselling, peer support groups, and other community-based programmes can help them address underlying issues that may contribute to drug abuse and help them to prioritise their well-being.

In a nutshell, preventing youths from prioritising drug abuse requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the root causes of substance abuse and provides youths with the support and resources they need to succeed.

Let us fight this monster called drug abuse together!

Chaplain Godswill Gumpo is a youth activist. He writes here in his personal capacity. 

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