Fighting alcohol, drug abuse: Everyone’s responsibility

01 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Fighting alcohol, drug abuse: Everyone’s responsibility Combined participation between families, school systems and the broader community can help us fight under-age drinking and drug use

The ManicaPost


Dr Mazvita Machinga and Terence Madzimure

Mental Health

ILLICIT drug use is a major public health problem that impacts society on multiple levels and calls for urgent intervention.

In Zimbabwe, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have driven up various mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

The closure of schools during the period when Covid-19 cases were spiralling up had adverse effects which continue to be witnessed up to now.

In schools and communities, there is an increase of reported cases of school children and young adults abusing illicit substances.

The use of these illicit substances disrupts and poses risks among young people, including cognitive impairments, overdosing, absentism or dropping out of school, many other things.

Statistics from the Anti-Drug Abuse Association of Zimbabwe (ADAAZ) say up to 43 percent of students know of school mates who were found in possession of cigarettes.

Experts have identified peer pressure, breakdown of the family support system, adverse childhood experiences, limited knowledge about the effects of drug abuse and stress as major factors that drive substance and drug abuse among youths.

It is against this background that the Ministry of Health and Child Care through the Department of Mental Health Services and its partner organisations joined hands to craft the Zimbabwe National Drug Master Plan (ZNDMP 2021-2025).

This policy document seeks to provide a clear roadmap to address the cross-cutting drug use problem as well as highlighting a results-based implementation matrix to illustrate the roadmap as well as to ensure rigorous monitoring and evaluation.

As mental health service providers in Manicaland Province, we join others in fighting substance abuse.

We do not condone the use of illicit substances by students as these can have harmful effects.

Furthermore, using illicit drugs can disturb brain function of students in areas such as motivation, memory, learning, judgement, and behaviour control (Chirisa, 2017).

Since illicit drug issue is now a national problem, in Zimbabwe, a National Drug Fund has been set aside to fight the scourge that has afflicted the country.


The fund will establish treatment and rehabilitation centres for those who struggle with addiction and substance abuse.

A Zimbabwe National Drug Master plan (ZNDMP 2020 to 2025) has also been crafted.

There is need for local authorities, churches and communities to launch recreational activities at community centres to keep students away from drugs, give guidance and monitor them and their friends.

Schools should also institute measures to prevent the onset of alcohol and drug consumption in schools.


They should have planned and guided recreational or study activities for students during holidays to gainfully occupy their time.

NGOs, PVOs which include Communities Against Drug And Substance Abuse (CADASA), Psychotherapy Care and Counselling Services (PCCS) in Mutare, Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN ),and many others have been taking the initiatives in the sensitisation programmes of the dangers of substance and drug abuse.

Word for parents, communities

Parents, families, and communities play a critical role in preventing substance use and promoting academic success among children.

It is important for parents to know what to do to prevent substance and alcohol use in the first place and intervene right away if their child has a drug or alcohol problem.

Once use occurs, an entire collection of change agents may be needed to solve the problem.

So, prevention is better than cure in this case.


We should all know that scientific evidence has made it clear that drinking and drug use during adolescence can be risky.


Even a little alcohol use may lead to problems.


Many research studies show that the earlier the exposure, the more problems later.

We know that what parents say to their teenage children about substance use matters.


Parents need to be clear that they do not approve of substance use and any suspicion about your child taking substances should be taken seriously.

The message of zero tolerance for substance use should be given to our children in the communities and families.


Also, it is important for parents to be armed with skills and strategies to prevent substance use, to recognise problems early and to intervene when a problem occurs.

Schools and families need to intervene when substance use is detected. Steps should be taken to ensure that at-risk students become and stay drug and alcohol-free.

The authors of this article are available to assist with substance abuse prevention programmes, including the identification and intervention for substance use at-risk students.

Remember only combined participation between families, school systems and the broader community can help us fight under-age drinking and drug use.

Dr Mazvita Machinga and Terence Madzimure can be contacted on 0771 754 519 or 0714799613 or call Toll Free Helpline 08080482.

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