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Drug and Substance Abuse in Zimbabwe: Harare Council Steps in

Drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe is rife and local authorities are devising ways to deal with it. It is prevalent among the youth as they are impressionable. Drug peddlers consider them an easy target. However, in Harare, for example, the police and city council are working to clamp down its rise. So, in the beginning of July 2023 the City of Harare (CoH) council took action. The council held a drugs and substance abuse policy formulation stakeholders’ consultation programme.

Among the attendees and presenters was Mrs Lizzy Muchena. She was representing the Director of housing and Community Services of the CoH council. She mentions how reports on drug use and abuse is in escalation in Zimbabwe. Additionally, she says that over half of patients in admission at inpatient mental health institutions report experience a substance abuse disorder. Furthermore, she mentions that the spike of drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe during COVID 19 due to prolonged closure of school is on record.

Also, the restriction of sports, recreation activities and limited economic ventures contributed to this spike during this period. Concern over adolescents’ and young people’s drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe is also continuing to increase prompting the urgent need for intervention. There is an ongoing crackdown of known and suspected drug dealers around the country.

Some of the drugs and substances in abuse

Substances such as Broncleer cough syrup, which has codeine, is being abused. Addiction of this cough syrup is continuing to rise, and it finds its way illegally in Zimbabwe in high volumes. This means that the borders are porous and there are high chances of corruption at points of entry. Additionally, it is not surprising if investigations reveal that some of those manning the borders are aware and may be complicit in these illicit activities. This increases the prevalence of drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe to the detriment of the end user and the society.

Moreover, local production of drugs and addictive substances is on the rise. This local production further challenges the fight against drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. This includes the illegal manufacture and distribution of Musombodhiya, an illicit alcohol brew composed of diluted ethanol or methanol. It is alleged to contain 95% alcohol. Also, users take it in small doses, and it can incapacitate the user after they consume it.

Fight of drug and substance abuse policy by CoH

However, to fight this drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe, the City of Harare is drafting a policy for the city. According to Mrs Muchena, the policy seeks to provide clarity on the council’s stance regarding drugs and substance abuse. This is to minimise problems for residence and council workers. Also, it will help them raise awareness and identify problems at an early stage. Furthermore, the policy will highlight the support the council will give to support those affected by alcohol or controlled substance related problems. This will be by providing clear signage of support available to residents among others. Finally, it will encourage residence to seek access to treatment where possible. These are some of the major focus areas that will be in the policy.

All these measures will be helpful if all members of the society play their part in helping. Addiction of any kind is a societal problem hence it is ideal for the society to help deal with it. Moreso, as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. This saying is truer in such a situation where adolescent and young adults are battling with drug and substance abuse in Zimbabwe. The active involvement of the Harare City council to fight this abuse will go a long way in alleviating the negative effects of drug and substance abuse.

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