By Brian Mutembedza

Since the beginning of recorded history many people have had serious problems with drug and substance abuse, the trend seems to persist up to the present day and the prospects of it surpassing the past and the present is high in the near future. The most common addictive drug of all has been alcohol, its acceptability to many societies and it being readily available makes it top the scores.

When any society experiences hardships the likelihood of its people, especially the young, opting to engage in abuse of drugs is high. Stress is a major stimulus to addiction and to escape pressure people start with a limited quantity of the drug and eventually addiction sets in. Alcohol and other drugs serve as sedatives to other people when problems of life arise. Alcohol and drug abuse pose as a sure door to more problems that are associated with intoxication and lack of self-control thereby creating an unending cycle of drinking, drunkenness and more complications.

Alcohol is a toxin which affects most body cells and with rapid intake the alcohol content of the blood rises, the brain’s functioning is impaired temporarily, and the drinker’s thinking and emotional responses are influenced. If alcohol is taken consistently and in large amounts physical changes are noticed such as destruction of brain cells having an impact on mental functioning, malfunctioning of the liver among a host of other changes including death. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s ‘Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2014’ found out that alcohol consumption increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and some cancers as well as making people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

“More needs to be done to protect populations from the negative health consequences of alcohol consumption….there is no room for complacency to stop harmful drinking which in addition to dependency, can lead to violence and injuries,” said Dr. Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health.

WHO also reported that in 2012, about 3.3 million deaths of all global deaths were attributable to alcohol consumption which, during the same period, saw on average every person in the world aged between 15 years or older drinking 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year.

Zimbabwe is not spared since it has had similar challenges of drug and alcohol abuse. Touting among other forms of “employment” has brought with it enormous consumption of drugs and alcohol as it poses as one of the ‘qualifications’ of the trade. On passing through any congested and busy bus terminus you notice beer and strong stuff canes and bottles strewn all over. 

The language used by the touts and their behaviour bear testimony that the consumption of such strong substances has never benefitted any patriotic and peace loving citizen. This has also had a negative impact on school children’s lives, some commute from school using the same buses and they observe that type of life and eventually imitate what they see. 

In this new dispensation where love, peace and tolerance is preached by the Head of State, President E. D. Mnangagwa, there is need for every citizen to have a sober mind and think without any influence of drugs so that nation building becomes a reality. As the nation prepares for new opportunities, it is now time for everyone including those who used to abuse drugs to embrace somberness, smell the coffee and rise again with an intention of building the country together.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.