Ernestine Nhapi, Vice Chairperson of Zimbabwe Institute for Drug and Alcohol Combating (ZIDAC) and Detective Assistant Inspector Makina of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Drugs, Zimbabwe Republic Police making their contributions to the WEBEX discussion.
On 10 July, United Nations Information Centres (UNICs) Harare and Nairobi, and UNIS Vienna connected via WEBEX to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
The commemoration, which was facilitated via WEBEX – a UNIC-driven internet connectivity that allows participants to engage in discussions across borders and continents – took the form of a discussion focusing on youth drug abuse and culminated in the participants suggesting possible solutions to curb drug abuse.
Participants to the discussion included UNODC staff, experts on drugs issues, youth, teachers, police and NGOs dealing with drugs. Eshila Maravanyika, Deputy Director UNIC Nairobi facilitated the session, inviting contributions from each of the participating UNICs.
The contributions revealed that the main causes of drug abuse by young people emanated mostly from peer pressure, academic workloads within schools, colleges and universities, the problem of absentee parents and the general environment surrounding the youth.
“Most young people always use drugs to ‘feel high’, as they call it nowadays, meaning out of oneself,” said one of the students in Vienna adding, “If one uses drugs they claim to forget about all their problems.”
Another university student from Zimbabwe said “youths always use drugs as a way of meeting the targets of their workloads, especially in universities where the curriculum demands a lot of work. They end up using marijuana because it makes the brain work faster and better since it gives one a lot of strength.”
Up to 200, 000 die every year due to illicit drugs, Yury Fedotov Executive Director of the UN Office for Drug Control (UNODC) said in his 2014 Statement to mark the Day. He explained that drugs do not just affect the user, they cause tremendous hardship and misery to families and loved ones.
Ernestine Nhapi, Vice Chairperson of Zimbabwe Institute for Drug and Alcohol Combating (ZIDAC) concurred adding “Drug abuse does not only affect the user, but the country as a whole because it slows down the economic development of a country.”
She added that, in order to promote a society free from drugs we have to solicit commitment from the government, to have confidence to confront organizations that produce alcohol, encourage the youth to participate in awareness that promotes a drug-free society and work closely with the media so that they broadcast effective messages.
Cannabis is the most widely-abused drug among young people, mostly because it is cheap to purchase. Other drugs such as cocaine and heroin are also popular. According to Detective Assistant Inspector Makina of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Drugs, Zimbabwe Republic Police, some young people are also abusing cough syrups as they are cheaper and more easily accessible.
Those caught abusing drugs are however arrested and prosecuted, Makina explained.
Sadly, statistics produced by UNODC indicate that only one out of six people using drugs is able to get professional help.
“There is no justification for abuse of drugs,” Alex Njeru an official from the National Agency for Campaign against Drug Abuse (NACADA) Kenya, said. He stressed that young people should avoid being idle and use their energy positively.
Preventive measures proposed by the participants included good parenting, dialoguing, having mentors, and encouraging young people to start and participate in clubs. The youths were also urged to use the media, such as electronic, print and the social media constructively.
Staff from UNODC said their office was designing a programme that will bring together stakeholders that include parents, teachers and the students to fight the menace effectively.
“On the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I urge the international community to strengthen its efforts to confront illicit drugs as an integral element in building a safe and sustainable future,” United Nations General Secretary, Ban ki-Moon said in his message to mark this Day.
The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking serves as a reminder of the goals agreed to by Member States of creating an international society free of drug abuse. By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. This resolution recommended further action with regard to the report and conclusions of the 1987 International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.