College drug abuse reaches epidemic levels

MUTARE - Drug abuse has reached alarming proportions at the country’s tertiary institutions with many students developing mental disorders that are forcing some out of college, a local Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO) has revealed.

Speaking during a clean-up campaign of the eastern border city’s central business district involving students from Mutare Teachers’ College, Mary Mount Teachers’ College and Mutare Polytechnic last Saturday, Focus Zimbabwe Regional Training officer Tivakudze Zhou also said over 60 students have been arrested on drug abuse-related crimes in Mutare alone since 2014.

“There are so many cases of drug abuse-related mental disorders among students...the most commonly abused substance appears to be Broncleer cough syrup because we often find empty containers strewn all over campuses.

“In Mutare district alone during the period 2014, 2015 and 2016, police had 334 arrests and 20 percent of these were students,” Zhou said.

Focus Zimbabwe, a para-church organisation, works with tertiary institutions across the country offering leadership training to students’ representative councils, HIV and Aids counselling and life skills training.

He said although some of the commonly abused drugs were sedative drugs, alcohol and marijuana were also popular due to their ease of access.

Zhou said ,of great concern are many drug lords on college campuses who get their supplies either from their rural homes or from urban centres.

“Substance abuse has a negative impact on students undergoing training but we try to make sure that we rehabilitate them although the norm has been their expulsion,” he said.

He also said some students were taking drugs as a habit before college while some were succumbing to peer pressure or falling back on substances to alter their moods due to severe stress.

Zhou said his organisation also coordinates students’ psycho-social outreach campaigns to under-privileged communities like orphanages and old people’s homes across the country.

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