Youths urged to shun drugs as mental health admissions soar

BULAWAYO – Zimbabweans youths have been urged to shun drug abuse amid reports that at least 60 percent of all admissions in mental health institutions were induced by high drug use among the country’s young citizens.

Zimbabwe for Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) executive director Wilson Box urged guardians and parents to play a role in ensuring youths desist from drug use.

“Parents must be aware of what their children are doing. They must be able to observe any unusual behaviour from teenagers in the home,” Box said recently.

“They should also be mindful of older people hanging around the youths because some of these older people are now in the trade of illicit drug use, especially crystal meth. Parents must be wary of these parties where young people go to refresh.”

The most commonly used drugs are cannabis (including skunk), alcohol (both legal and illegal), cough syrup (codeine), crystal meth, and to a lesser extent, pharmaceutical drugs.

Box said in most cases, peer pressure and pressure from parents who have high expectations of their children are part of the major triggers of substance abuse among youths.

The anti-drug abuse activist implored the government to open up more rehabilitation centres to absorb the ever increasing number of youths abusing drugs.

“We really appreciate what the government has done to date in terms of fighting drug abuse.

“However, we feel more can be done, like opening up new rehabilitation centres and introducing harm reduction services. There is a need for more treatment centres to cater to people using drugs.”

He added: “Stigma and discrimination should be reduced by capacity strengthening for staff working in healthcare facilities on the health needs of people who use drugs.

“Respectful and ethical communication with patients who may be using substances including attention to guaranteeing their privacy.”

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