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Bulawayo's drug problem spirals out of control

by Staff reporter
30 Mar 2022 at 06:16hrs | Views
ABOUT 250 drug addicts are attended to at Ingutsheni Central Hospital monthly amid worries that the number of youths abusing drugs keeps rising in Bulawayo.

Statistics from Active Youth Zimbabwe, a drug treatment and rehabilitation organisation shows that the average age of substance use initiation is between 13 and 14 years old in the province.

The illegal practice has been worsened by the fact that there are no rehabilitation centres locally and addicts are likely to relapse even after treatment at Ingutsheni.

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is working towards a drug-free society through a drug master plan which will help the country achieve Vision 2030.

The master plan aims at dealing with drug and substance abuse in society.

In Zimbabwe people mostly abuse alcohol both licensed and unlicensed brews, tobacco, cannabis and non-medicinal use of controlled medicines such as codeine containing cough medicines and benzodiazepines.

In an interview, Ingutsheni clinical director Dr Wellington Ranga said the number of addicts visiting the public institution for help was worrying.

"This issue of drug abuse is problematic and really it is the role of the community to bring an end to this. So far, we see about 250 patients a month who are addicts, some we treat and some we admit but a majority of them always relapse," said Dr Ranga.

"We may lose the battle as these drugs which start with alcohol as an entry point are accessible. As long as people continue to drink alcohol, people will always find their way to abuse drugs."

He said there are some drinking cultures associated with weekends, drug abuse will continue in the country.

"The problem is the same across classes because drug abuse is even high among those who are rich, we cannot even link it to unemployment and poverty," he said.

Active Youth Zimbabwe director Mr Romio Matshazi said the organisation had started doing awareness campaigns to empower youths around Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.

"Over the years, drug and substance abuse has been a major concern for most businesses, health care service providers and the Government alike.

"This is because drug abuse has been pointed out as a leading cause of children being left vulnerable to circumstances such as HIV and Aids, poverty, illness, early marriages, child mortality rate due to unwanted pregnancies," said Mr Matshazi.

"Drug abuse also leads to loss of productivity, absenteeism at work, mental illness and other preventable health issues which stall economic development. Of late we have been witnessing a sharp increase in criminal activities in

Bulawayo and residents are linking it to drug abuse which we must all fight so that we have a productive community."

He said the organisation had partnered with members of the Criminal Investigation Department, Ingutsheni and several organisations to come up with strategies to address drug abuse in Bulawayo.

"In order to prevent deep-seated drug habits later on in our children's lives, we have to take action now.

"We have to ask questions and to understand the problem at hand. We will also hold our first meeting in Makokoba on Saturday to address growing drug abuse concerns from residents."

Source - The Chronicle