SUBSTANCE or drug abuse especially among the youths has many deleterious physiological and psychological health effects.
And when the subject of drug abuse comes up in Zambia, it is often in relation to young people and abuse that are at or near notable highs.
Apparently this abuse becomes more pronounced during transition to adulthood from adolescence which is always characterized by freedom from parents and seeking close ties with peers and friends.
Regrettably this age range is also pigeonholed by experimenting new ideas, life styles, and making choices that not always show to be right.
These experimentations many times lead to unreliable results which lead some youths to start using drugs, tobacco, and alcohol as a means of dodging those situations.
Zambian youths have not been spared from this excessive usage of substances with immense physiological and psychological health effects.
There is no denying that drug abuse by youths in Zambia continues to be a strategy among them to cope with various socioeconomic and psychological problems.
Keeping in mind that youths are a susceptible population, it is therefore crucial for the government to address this matter with the urgency it deserves.
It is not easy to understand why many Zambian youths have taken to drug and alcohol abuse but one of the most common reasons they often give is boredom and lack of employment.
So they consequently and sadly see drugs and alcohol as a pastime to be explored without realizing the serious health corollaries.
There is no denying that many youths in Zambia also turn to drugs and alcohol as a form of escapism. When they are sad or depressed they see substances as a way to forget and feel happier.
Sheer curiosity has also been identified as a natural part of life and our youths are not immune to the urge.
Many youths begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol simply because they are curious and want to know what it feels like.
So the story of Choma Magistrates Court slapping a six-year jail sentence on a 23-year-old youth who scored 13 points at Grade 12 after he admitted trafficking in 88 sachets of heroin is a pointer to a terrifying situation which is unfolding in Zambia
Mundia Shiwisha of Choma’s Zambia Compound was charged with two counts of trafficking in psychotropic substances.
Particulars of the offence in count one are that on June 5 Shiwisha trafficked in 88 sachets of heroin weighing 5.28gms without lawful authority.
In count two, Shiwisha was accused of being in possession of 600.30gms of marijuana without lawful authority or medical recommendation.
In mitigation defence counsel Melissa Tatila from Legal Aid Board begged the court to be lenient with Shiwisha because he was remorseful of his actions and that he was still youthful.
The lawyer said if given a second chance Shiwisha could contribute positively to the development of Zambia.
What will become of Shiwisha after spending six year in prison is anyone’s guess but it is almost clear that his life has already run into some rugged gears.
Drugs and alcoholic problems should be major concerns for all Zambians as they pose a threat to the safety and health of our youths, the future of the nation.
We should begin to seriously educate the youths on the repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse and now is the time to do so.