youths and drugs

Drugs wolf Zimbabwean youths as we commemorate youth day

Vendetta Mtunzi
GENERATION Z can dope!
Children born after the turn of the millennium a�� are statistically the most worrisome age group because their parents and grand parents worry about their sex, drugs and booze craze.

a�?Ita��s as if they were never our age,a�? says Sithembiso from a private school in Bulawayo, multi-tasking on her phone.

Well, this reporter using probably a tired line that lately getting onea��s hands on drugs and other vices is easier than back in the day invites a rude look from the teenager before she reverts back to her phone.

The word dope now has two meanings. Teenagers dona��t refer to marijuana as a�?zolia�?, a�?green veggiesa�? or any other yesteryear name a�� ita��s simply a�?dopea�?. For a nosey elder a�?dopea�? has another meaning to distract them which is a�?pretty coola�?.

a�?Ita��s hard to escape these vices but be responsible while at it. Sadly with teenagers ita��s that carefree spirit that rules us,a�? she added.

With so much going on, it comes as no surprise that in the past 10 years, youths have been shattering each generationa��s records in terms of drug use. Taurai Kuziva, an expert counsellor on drug-related issues in Bulawayo said statistics of drug abuse have skyrocketed and attributes this rise to a lapse in security which has yielded a well-networked drug route.

Last month police in Bulawayo arrested two men found with a consignment of khat a�� a dangerous drug a�� with a street value of $135 000 which was destined for the United Kingdom.

a�?Drugs are not just transported from one drug mule to another without distribution in between. The same drugs hit the streets and devour thirsty youths on the streets,a�?A� said Kuziva.

Early this month Sheron Tholiwe Tshuma (25) from Mganwini suburb in Bulawayo was arrested for possessing about 3kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of $470 000 and Kuziva said the age of dealers found in possession tells a story that they target the youth as a market.

a�?The dealers are relatively young adults who share the same interests with the teenagers. At 25 probably one is a cool role model for a 17-year-old and so linking up is not a problem,a�? he added.

The street value of cocaine is understood to be between $150 to $200 depending on the grade while pills can sell for around $20 each. As such, only the affluent teenagers have access to the more expensive drugs meaning that most teenagers with no readily available disposable income stick to the age old a�?dopea�? dagga that retails from as little as 50 cents.

Lungile Mpofu, a psychiatrist with a local hospital said teenagehood was a crossroads dilemma for people and drugs tended to avail a somewhat window of escape.

a�?Many youths are resorting to drugs for fun and to deal with pain or any emotions in their lives. That is plain wrong because at the end any criminal offences related to youths are committed under the influence of drugs,a�? she said.

One of the facilities that help youths deal with addiction is the Contact Family Counselling Centre which provides counselling for youths.

a�?Drug abuse affects everyone in the society, the one who takes them and those around them. We are here for their counselling in helping them get back to the community as changed people for the better,a�? said Gabriel Hategekim.

Mthandazo Ndlovu of the Rechabites, a trust formed by a drug specialist as a drug education and rehabilitation body, said:

a�?There has been a significant rise in the youths taking drugs, recently I visited Ingutsheni and the percentage of drug-induced mental illness was at 60 percent. This rise is because now youths do not just take drugs, they do what it called poly drugging. This is taking in more than one drug a�� for example one takes in alcohol, marijuana and cough syrup,a�? said Ndlovu.

This was corroborated by Ingutsheni Hospital public relations officer Vongai Chimhindi who said that they had 70 patients admitted to their hospital for taking drugs and that this number was rising.

a�?Currently we have 70 patients who are being treated mentally due to taking in drugs and the number is rising by the day,a�? said Chimhindi.

* 26 June is the International Day against Drug Abuse and International Trafficking.