A local anti-drug advocacy group, the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) has expressed concern over rampant drug and substance abuse in higher and tertiary institutions while calling for a holistic approach to curb the practice.
ZCLDN programs officer Knowledge Mupembe made these remarks recently while making a presentation at a Harare City Council student induction workshop.
“There is rampant drug and substance use in higher and tertiary institutions as well as at workplaces,” Mupembe said.
He said in Zimbabwe adolescents and youths take drugs for various reasons including as a remedy to stress from joblessness (unemployment), peer pressure, emotional or physical abuse at home, boredom, depression, anxiety, unstable home environment, and poor relationship with parents.
“Behavioral problems combined with poor parenting, poor achievement in school, availability of drugs, and bullying at school are some of the reasons why youths take drugs, Mupembe said.
Kudakwashe Madzima, a former drug user, gave a testimony on how he started taking drugs to the moment he was rehabilitated.
“I started smoking marijuana, multiple times a day. Smoking marijuana helped me forget who I was, the feeling of getting out of my own skin was amazing.
“Later l ‘graduated’ to other drugs and I was using strictly musombodhiya, that substance I was so curious about. However, I became lonely. I lost everything: lifelong friends and l burnt those bridges,” he said.
Madzima, who works with ZCLDN, said his family mobilized resources for him to be rehabilitated in South Africa.
“I managed to get a new lease of life after l went through rigorous rehabilitation in South Africa. I am now a changed man, I now live a new life and it’s possible for every one of us to use drugs,” added Madzima.
Zimbabwe does not have official data on drug or substance use because a population size estimate has never been done before although anecdotal evidence points to a lot of illicit drug use on the ground in the country.
It is estimated that 60 percent of young people aged between 16 and 35 years could have used or are using drugs or substances while 60 percent of admissions to mental institutions are linked to drug and substance use.
Drugs are psychoactive substances that are taken for recreational purposes, are addictive and alter or affect one’s mood, and emotions, or state of consciousness.
Possible interventions include treatment, rehabilitation, harm reduction, psycho-social support, and a supportive legal and policy framework (drug policy reforms to create a conducive and enabling environment). He said efforts to address the drug use scourge were being addressed through the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan and Treatment and Rehabilitation Guidelines for Alcohol and Substance Use Disorders.