via Drug-induced mental illness cases on the rise – DailyNews Live 6 July 2014 by Nyasha Chingono
HARARE – A youth staggers on the streets, his vision blurred by the ecstasy effect of intoxicating drugs.
“I am high” — is a phrase that sounds trendy among the youths, but bears hefty consequences which have wreaked havoc in the society.
The cherubic youth has actually adopted the name “Drugs” and seems to be the hero (king pin) amongst his peers who are also caught up in the dragnet of addiction.
His story is one of many severe cases on the streets where bright futures are gradually being shattered through excessive drug or mood enhancer intake, purportedly to be with the in-crowd.
In recent years, cases of drug-induced mental illnesses have increased as youths’ abuse drugs for fun — but end up addicted and hooked on the life-threatening habit.
It remains a fact that drug-induced mental sickness is at the fore of the numerous causes of mental illnesses in Zimbabwe.
Last week, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a day set to campaign against drug abuse.
A workshop held in commemoration of the day in Bulawayo revealed that youths were vulnerable to drug addiction which culminates in mental illness, a sad situation rocking Zimbabwe’s future.
Psychosis as it is known in medicine is an experience of mental disorders like hallucinations and seeing distorted mental pictures.
Statistics from the ministry of Health, Department of Mental Health indicate that 135 drug-induced Psychosis admissions were recorded at Harare Hospital in 2013, with 865 out-patients documented in the same year.
Deputy director, Mental Health Services Dorcas Sithole said men are largely involved in drug abuse.
“We have a problem of drug abuse as a country,” Sithole said, attributing the problem to the fact that government did not have enough rehabilitation facilities, an unfortunate situation which resulted in patients being vulnerable to repeated addiction.
“We have a challenge of inadequate resources and rehabilitation centres. These statistics show that we have a problem.”
At Parirenyatwa Hospital, 90 percent of the admissions are related to substance abuse, 80 percent of which involve youths below the age of 25.
In Bulawayo at Ingutsheni psychiatric hospital it is a different case where most patients would have abused chronic disease drugs.
“Most abuse cases are HIV/Aids-related though drug abuse and misuse cases also have a significant percentage out of the total number,” an occupational therapist at the psychiatric hospital said.
He said anti-psychotic drugs are administered into the patient and other drugs that address side effects.
Rehabilitation is a crucial step to recovery where a patient is taken through steps of appreciating their problem and subsequent reintroduction into their families.
Drug-induced psychosis is rampant among youths who abuse illegal drugs such as mandrax, heroin, cocaine and mbanje among others.
The statistics have raised concerns of more urban youths abusing the infamous street drug Bronclee (commonly known as Bronco in street lingo), mbanje and the abuse of prescription drugs.
Bronco is the most popular drug among the youths in ghettos like Chillspot in Mbare (a popular Zimdancehall site) who wish to drown their despair with intoxicating substances.
Other highly potent drugs such as cocaine and heroin are not easily available to the youths as they are expensive; hence they abuse prescription drugs and cough mixture, just to get high.
ZRP Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Drugs and Narcotics say it will hunt down drug syndicates at the country’s major border posts, smuggling dangerous drugs into the country.
It is reported that most illegal drugs on the streets are smuggled by scrupulous drug dealers.
Detective Assistant Inspector, of CID Drugs and Narcotics Nicholas Makina said police are aiming to curb the supply of drugs.
“Drugs are brought into the country through our border posts.
“Police are therefore monitoring the footpath of smugglers from source countries,” Makina said.
He said although measures have been put in place to nip the drug problem in the bud, government policy was not consistent with their efforts.
“The police are doing their job, but legislation lets us down,” Makina said.
“There is currently no clear policy on drug and substance abuse, yet most government hospitals are recording more drugs-induced mental disorders.
“Looking at the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) right up to the ZimAsset blue print, this issue has been neglected and yet to achieve most of the goals set out in both documents, the drug abuse scourge must be addressed as a priority,” Ernestine Nhapi, an addictions specialist said.