EDITORIAL COMMENT: Govt must play vital role against drug abuse

DRUG and substance abuse has become a blight on our society, which is slowly eroding the potential of young people to build promising careers. It is tragic how this scourge is tearing apart families and even communities.

Drug and substance abuse not only leads to addiction, but it also leads to chronic medical conditions, mental health issues, social instability, unemployment, and sometimes even death.

The saddest part of the drug and substance abuse epidemic is that it is mostly young people who are affected. Young people who had bright and promising prospects are falling through the cracks and succumbing to the squeeze of addiction.

It is worrying to see how a generation of young people who could have had a bright future, full of promise, are instead being lost to drug abuse.

A sad example is that of Harare model, Tumelo Nare, who was sentenced to 15 months behind bars together with her friend, Precious Bango, after being convicted of cocaine possession at a Harare hotel last week.

Nare had a whole promising career in front of her, but her failure to resist destructive pressure led her to sniff cocaine.

When they got high, Nare and Bango casually wandered up and down the corridors of the hotel stark naked in broad daylight resulting in their arrest, and with it the end of Nare’s modelling career.

Most young people who are addicted to drugs and substances are unable to focus, which in turn, robs them of their careers, and ultimately destroys their future.

Drug and substance abuse often leads young people down a dark path. It can start with the occasional experimentation with drugs and substances, but quickly spirals into regular abuse.

They find themselves unable to concentrate, become absent-minded, and their memory becomes impaired. It becomes difficult for them to maintain a decent social circle of friends and even to hold down a steady job.

As their addiction deepens, young people begin to experience a decline in their physical health, their mental capacity is weakened, and they miss out on the opportunities to build the kind of connections that are vital to their career growth. Their potential is stifled, and their future prospects become limited as they have to contend with a litany of health issues.

To stem the tide of drug and substance abuse, the government must take an active role in addressing the problem. The government needs to create greater awareness on the dangers of drug and substance abuse. There is a need to design and implement prevention strategies that target the youth and provide them with alternatives to drug and substance abuse.

The government should also work closely with schools and colleges to educate young people on the risks of drug and substance abuse. They should create seminars and workshops that allow young people to learn about the consequences of drug use from medical professionals who have experience dealing with addiction. Additionally, there should be regular drug-tests in colleges, schools, and workplaces to identify and intervene in cases of substance abuse early.

The government should also mobilise funding for grassroots programmes that target at-risk populations.

Local organisations that are already working in the trenches to tackle drug and substance abuse issues should be supported with resources that enable them to reach out to more young people. This may include providing funding for more drug rehabilitation and mental health facilities. This could also include programmes that provide rehabilitation centres for recovering addicts and counsellors who work with patients to manage addiction and mental health issues.

There should also be strict penalties for drug peddlers and those caught distributing drugs.

The drug and substance epidemic is a threat to the future of young people that must be addressed immediately.

The government, together with other stakeholders, must play a pivotal role in the fight against drug and substance abuse. It is only then that we can ensure that young people who would have had promising careers are given a second chance to realise their full potential.

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