By Florence Zirima
HARARE – A local organization has started an anti-alcohol and drug abuse campaign, targeting communities in which unemployed young people resort to drinking and using dangerous substances such as (mutoriro) crystal meth to alleviate the stress of not having work. Those involved in the campaign say the solution lies largely with improving the country’s moribund economy.
Youths in various communities are educated on drug and substance abuse to help other young people who are into drugs. The programme is being initiated by Youths Against Drug and Substance Abuse Zimbabwe (YADSAZ) an organisation aiming in eradicating drug abuse.
Speaking recently in Harare’s high density surburb of Glenorah where a number of youths are benefiting from the programme on how they are utilising the knowledge they are obtaining to help other young people who are struggling with drugs.
One of the youths Kudakwashe said the programme is a great opportunity for him to turn back his friends who are now into drugs.
“I think it is a great chance for me to be part of YADSAZ’ s programme because I have a lot of friends who are now into drugs and I feel like I am the only one who is left out.
It is painful because I lost all my friends to drugs so the only weapon to defend myself so that I don’t end up joining them is to use the knowledge that I am getting from this programme to educate and inform them about the effects of drugs to their health”, he said.
Although the drug has been used in the country for some years, its use has grown in the in high density surburbs and township’s as the economic crisis grips the country, leaving few job prospects for young people. Zimbabwe has nearly 90% unemployment, with young people worst affected.
Keith Mvere is another youth who is benefiting from the programme who emphasised on the need to deal with the root causes of drug abuse.
“In as much as we want to help our fellow youths to stop taking drugs, we also need to deal with its root causes so that we do not have a huge number of youths who resort to drugs as a solution to their problems”, he said.
Tendai Mawodzeka is a pastor who joined the programme to help spread the word on drug abuse.
He said programmes on drug abuse should not only target youths but also parents as they also play a role which can lead to their children indulging in drug and substance abuse.
“As we do these programmes, we should also engage parents because some of the young people end up taking drugs because of various situations at their homes so parents need to be involved to help curb drug abuse in our communities”, he said.
Reach Out Foundation co-founder Dumisani Hamandishe said young people need to be provided with various activities and projects so that they do not think of taking drugs when they do not have anything productive to do.
A gram of crystal meth costs around US$8 a steep cost for most users.The drug-pushers have taken advantage of the use of foreign currency as legal tender in the country to milk the drug-thirsty market.
YADSAZ has managed to help eighteen youths who were into drugs and are between the ages of 12 and 18 years.
The organisation’s Vice President Lloyd Mangisi said they have set up a soccer club where drug addicts join as a way of rehabilitating them. He also said the organization is in the process of setting up as many projects as they can to help both young boys and girls who are struggling with drugs in different communities.
Tobacco smoking seems to pose more danger as it also affects non-smokers. Statistics from the World Health Organisation show that tobacco smoking leads to seven million deaths each year worldwide, including 890 000 of which are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
Abuse of substances such as marijuana, codeine-containing cough syrups and crystal methamphetamine are killing many people through injuries, road traffic accidents, violence and suicides.