The Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network has called on government and policy makers to draft humane policies to assist drug and dangerous substance users and protect them against discrimination from society.
Addressing journalists yesterday, ZCLDW Projects Executive Director Mr Wilson Box said the current legislation on drugs which criminalize drug users is fuelling discrimination against them. This is hindering them from getting assistance from society.
“The current policies on drugs are not good for drug users. Instead of criminalizing them, we believe our policies should drive towards rehabilitating drug users so that they get the best assistance. We believe drug users should not be treated as criminals, but as patients because drug use is a health issue,” Mr Box said.
He said the punitive measures against drug users will drive them into hiding due to fear of prosecution. But Humane policies will encourage them to come open up and get help.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a surge in drug use with the latest situational analysis research revealing that 60% of patients in mental health institutions experience substance induced disorders.
According to the research, Cannibis is the most used drug in the country, with research revealing that it makes up 67.9% of the most used drug. The others are Legal Alchohol (61.4%), Cough Syrup (Bronclea 48.1%), Skunk (43.3%), Crystal Meth (36.5%) and illegal Alcohol (31.4%).
Young people between the age of 16 to 25 years make up the majority of drug users in the country. This includes school going girls. The research reveals that young people are driven into drugs by problems like stress, unemployment and peer pressure.
ZCLDW has also called on government to build more public health rehabilitation centres to provide affordable care for drug users.