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Zimbabwe battles youth drug and substance abuse

Zimbabwe battles youth drug and substance abuse

Story by Memory Chamisa

DRUG and substance abuse remain a worrying scourge in the country, with children as young as 10 also falling victim to the social ill.

The past few years have witnessed an alarming rise in substance use among youths and teenagers, with the scourge having since been deemed a public health crisis.

This Saturday witnessed parents, guardians and their teenagers in the Zengeza suburb of Chitungwiza town initiating conversations on how best to deal with the scourge that has torn many families apart.

“This is very frightening especially if it happens in your house, you tend to question your parenting skills and responsibility as a parent,” said one of the parents.

Another added, “Statistics released over the years can be frightening for parents as they try to protect their teens.”

“It’s important that as parents we understand teen development and why they may be so susceptible to using substances during this age, teens’ brains are still developing, and they may be easily influenced by their surrounding peers and environments,” another parent said.

“The advent of social media has brought a lot of problems with it A teen can find someone with the substance online, request it online, pay online and then set up a time to meet all without a parent or guardian noticing. And, once the teen does have the physical substance, it may be a small pill that doesn’t smell and can’t be easily detected. Many substances may also be easily concealed in vape pens we have a battle to win as parents,” reiterated another parent.

Organiser of the campaign Mrs Daisy Mkariri stressed the need for concerted efforts in fighting the social ill.

“Many schools and community centres will offer educational programs that warn teens about the consequences of substance use and inform parents about access. There are also mentoring programs that can help teens connect and get help with issues, so they don’t turn to substance use in the first place. Parents can help their teens struggling with substance use and abuse by playing an active role in preventing substance use, helping them quit, getting the necessary treatment and recovering,” she said.

While drug abuse is illegal under Zimbabwean laws and punishable by fine or imprisonment, many drugs tend to distort a user’s perception of reality, leading to irrational and destructive behaviour.

Other common drivers include peer pressure, broken families, emotional and physical abuse and curiosity often resulting in addiction.

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