Drug Abuse Threatens Zimbabwe’s Future Economic Prospects-Experts

THE prevailing substance abuse scourge in Zimbabwe could have a long term impact on the country’s economic development as more young people of productive age are getting hooked on drugs owing to a myriad of factors chief among them being the economic induced hardships and idleness.

By Patricia Mashiri

In an interview with HealthTimes, leading Psychologist, Dr Kudakwashe Muchena, said  there was need for communities to work with the government to win the fight against drug abuse that has reared its ugly head over the few years and has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It is sad that our youths have been highly exposed to this highly intoxicating Mutoriro drug which is highly toxic and it is not something that we are proud of that we have youths that can go for days without eating or sleeping. We need to be as productive as highly as possible as a country. For someone to go for days without sleeping or eating I don’t think that person will be productive.

“It is actually of high concern as psychologist to say how best can we handle this situation given the circumstances and how best can we improve their mental health. The challenge with drugs is once you are hooked in you are likely to be on drugs for life. That’s impacting on the future generation. As a society it’s pertinent that we deal with the drug issue,” Dr Muchena.

Mental health is affected by the use of drugs. Mostly youths that have been using drugs or that use drugs usually have mental health problems which needs rehabilitation to be dealt with.

“Drug abuse results in depression, a lot of people that use drugs end up highly depressed either for the lack of them or trying to get as high as possible. It also leads to conduct problems a lot of social ills in communities for example stealing, unwanted pregnancies and risk sexual behaviours among others are a result of drug abuse.

“It can also lead to what are called personality disorders these are basically change in character. Most of our youth have become sort of devoid of reality they believe that they have to be under the influence of drugs to be able to do something. This change affects how they live in society. It also leads suicide thoughts when someone is high on drugs they can think about anything in most cases it leads to suicide in boys, and in girls mostly they threaten to kill themselves these are very common in our lives. The use of drugs have reached an almost crisis level because of its impact on the youth.”

He however called for unity in the fight against drug and substance abuse saying government on its own cannot provide necessary support for youths due to the absence of youths rehabilitation centres.

Meanwhile, Tafadzwa Meki, the Founder of Someone Always Listens Toyou (S.A.L.T) Africa said as an organization, they have been investigating the reasons behind the high prevelence of drug abuse even though movement into communities has been limited owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We found that drug abuse is mostly driven by socio-economic issues which involve family background, break up of parents, homelessness and joblessness. We also noticed that there are issues that encompass experiments among peers,need to feel free, stress relieve, mere exposure which is caused by living most probably with an adult who is a drug user.

“Drug using has far reaching consequences on mental health these include substance induced bipolar, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and sexual dysfunction among others. What is physical seen is shaking, constant saliva dripping, slow speech, loss of memory and restlessness. We need to address how these intoxicating substances getting their way to homes, markets and the streets,” said Meki.

She added there was need to look at abuse from a households and community level in a bid to ascertain the driving factors behind the increase in cases.

“There is need for a lot of advocacy to make the youth understand and appreciate the impact that drugs have on their future. There should be access to other income earning opportunities to help the youths and reduce their idleness.”

Statistics shows that in Zimbabwe approximately 3% of the adult population (45 000 people) had either a drug or alcohol use disorder (World Health Organization). Over 40% of the youth admit to regular drinking and 15% admit to regular use of cannabis use.

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