RESIDENTS Trusts are calling for authorities to empower communities to tackle the country’s drug and substance abuse problem.
The Zimbabwe National Organisation of Associations and Residents Trust (ZNOART) said that locals must work with police to bring drug paddlers to justice, in addition to providing community-based rehabilitation programmes.
The organisation, which is led by Shalvar Chikomba, also recommended that religious organisations help to train local leaders with counselling skills to allow them to support those struggling with addiction.
“Recreational facilities in our neighbourhoods are in a deplorable state. Local authorities have destroyed them, the Government must treat this issue as a state of emergency as the future of our young people is at stake,” said ZNOART.
It said that alcohol and other drug problems must be understood as social, economic, spiritual and health problems.
“Such an approach will provide an opportunity for all those involved in the campaign against the drug abuse menace to re-orient their energies towards ridding or reducing the vagaries of alcohol and drug abuse in society.
“Religious bodies are central pillars in the promotion of the fundamentals that provide a firm foundation upon which alcohol and drug abuse is dealt with in society.
“The truth of the matter is that in churches today, there are people struggling with drug use disorders, albeit quietly.
“The reality is that in the confines of any religious organisation, someone is suffering in silence, enslaved to some addictive substance or behaviour, accepting this reality becomes imperative for the leaders, so as to enable religious organisations to take a stand in the fight against substance abuse and addiction.”
ZNOART said studies show that religion is an important protective factor against substance abuse and an important support for persons in recovery.
“Religious leaders are less likely than others to use drugs and less likely to experience negative drug-related consequences.
“This gives them a pedestal from which to exert their massive influence in fighting the menace of alcohol and drug abuse within their spaces.”
It urged religious leaders to be alive to the fact that in as much as they like to think their flock is obedient, compliant and without blemish, at times they wander into very dark, dangerous places, such as alcohol and drug addiction.
“Through its network of learning institutions, the church is well placed to promote the campaign against alcohol and drugs to the hundreds of thousands of students.
“The church has an essential role in remodelling public debate on alcohol and drugs by shifting the focus from punishment to prevention and treatment.”