Drug, Alcohol Abuse Reverse Gains In HIV Response

Dennis Kaparadze was so intoxicated that he staggered and stumbled from Huruyadzo shopping centre in Chitungwiza’s St Mary’s to his family home, a stone’s throw away.

Since losing his job as a commuter omnibus conductor after the government banned private commuter omnibuses early last year, Kaparadze, a married father of one, has resorted to abusing beer and drugs.

Kaparadze is not alone in this predicament as rising unemployment coupled by reduced opportunities caused by Covid-19 have taken a toll on the poor, compelling many to abuse alcohol and drugs.

Zimbabwe does not have official data on illicit drug use because a population size estimate has never been done before, but according to the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN), anecdotal evidence points to a lot of illicit drug use on the ground in the country.

According to the country’s mental health records, 60% of admissions to mental health institutions are due to substance use.

Of those, 80% are between the ages 16 to 35.

Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in 2020, which is 22% more than in 2010, while over 45 million people suffer from drug use disorders, according to the World Drug Report [2021], released in June by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

By 2030, demographic factors project the number of people using drugs to rise by 11% around the world, and as much as 40% in Africa alone, says the report.

“My brother is always high,” said Phineas, Kaparadze’s younger brother.

“He used to drink beer only and would smoke marijuana here and there, but since he lost his job, he has been different. —Standard

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