By Abigirl Tembo, Features Editor
AS Zimbabwe joins the world in commemorating the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, calls have been made for the government to come up with a drug masterplan that will ensure drug dependant people get the necessary treatment and support at an affordable cost.
Now 48, Noreen of Dzivarasekwa started taking drugs at the age of 22.
She has experimented with everything from beer to marijuana but has now resorted to Kachasu, a cheap illicit homemade brew. For her like many other people who use drugs, it is an escape route.
“I just want to escape from all this, I want to rest and forget everything, I know that drugs are bad for my health but I can’t seem to stop.”
Because of excessive alcohol intake Noreen; a former model was at some point in 1995 taken advantage of whilst drunk, an incident which still haunts her up to this day.
“Forced sex is rape, he took advantage of me I was drunk and he had unprotected sex with me, I don’t even recall what exactly happened but because of that incident I am now on ART.”
As a result of her addiction to alcohol, Noreen has four failed marriages; a situation shared by Mr Raymond Kanyemba a qualified civil engineer who also lost his family and job.
Raymond is now working with a local trustee Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network as the leader of a 20 member pressure group in Dzivarasekwa as he battles to fight his addiction.
“I am a civil engineer and used to have a family but now because of excessive intake of alcohol I have lost everything, it is difficult to quit alcohol but I am slowly getting there.”
Executive Director of Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network Mr. Wilson Box says people who use drugs also require support from policymakers and society.
“We are advocating for policymakers to come up with a drug master plan for Zimbabwe. At the moment Zimbabwe does not have one, we have now engaged the Ministry of Health and they are now in the process of looking at the drug master plan so that at least there is a framework to assist people who use drugs. Some of them you will be shocked they have very high qualifications and if assisted to clean up they can go far.”
Zimbabwe has no data on the prevalence of drug abuse but anecdotal evidence on the ground points to a lot of drug abuse in the country, a situation worsened by the lack of public drug rehabilitation centres while the few available private ones are beyond the reach of many.