HARARE – Tapera, 26, has no job and already feels like a huge disappointment to his mother and siblings.
The thought of them finding out about his drug use clearly causes him even more anguish.
He has just finished playing snooker at a nearby bar after taking his daily fix and looks at his friends in a daze.
Tapera is one of the many youths who use Histalix and Bron cleer cough syrups, coined “feel good drugs.”
“I never let my mother or my siblings know about my drug use,” he said “If they know, they will get angry with me. I wish to see my lovely mother smile at me all the time, and I also want to help her because she is old now.”
He is the fifth son in a poor family. His mother is a widow and a single mother of eight children. Tapera could not attend school because his mother could not support him, and circumstances forced him to drop out of school when he was in Lower Sixth.
He said before he started to do drugs, he worked piece jobs in town for a shortwhile.
“I got low wages so I could not feed myself. I decided to stop and go home,” he said.
“Under the influence of weed and drugs, I have bedded many undesirable sexual partners, at times it worries me. I am afraid to see a doctor and I feel ashamed.”
Tapera said he is uncertain of what the future holds for him.
“I cannot stop using drugs and have no job. I can’t see a future for myself,” he said.
Tapera believes that aid agencies, the government and other stakeholders should establish a free rehabilitation centre for people who use drugs.
“The centre should train its clients in vocational skills and help them live with the same hope as people who do not use drugs,” he said.
Edgar Mhizha, a local health expert, said that if used correctly, the cough mixtures relieves the effects of allergies, but if abused they are potentially addictive with side effects.
“The side effects that are experienced are lack of co-ordination, mental confusion, visual hallucinations, blurred vision, dry mouth, urinary hesitancy and thickening of secretion.
Other side effects are constipation, dizziness and hyperactivity,” said the health expert.
“Both these cough mixtures have codeine in them. And when codeine is absorbed by the body it converts into morphine which is a mild painkiller. Codeine has cough suppressant actions.”
Mhizha said the worst case scenario for those that take the recreational drugs is that they can become mentality disturbed.
At least 50 percent of admissions at mental institutions in Zimbabwe are attributed to substance-induced disorders.
According to the Health Professionals Empowerment, youths are the most affected victims of these admissions.
Over 80 percent fall in the age group 16-40 and it is mostly the males who are affected.
The age group mostly affected by this condition is supposed to form the core of the workforce in any vibrant economy.
Drug abuse is on the rise in Zimbabwe, with law enforcement agents recently seizing 5kg of heroin, according to Officer Commanding CID Drugs.