THE cost of drug rehabilitation centres in Zimbabwe is too high for many people and is leading to continued substance abuse as most junkies cannot afford treatment.
Drug abuse is now rife especially among teenagers with some as young as 14 engaging in abuse of dangerous substances like cocaine, heroin, crystal meth (mutoriro), marijuana and codeine-laden cough syrup — Broncleer.
Medicine San Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) project coordinator for Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health, Elton Mbofana said many dependents are willing to quit their addiction but have limited choice as private rehabilitation facilities are too expensive.
“Currently, the only available rehabilitation centres for substance abuse are privately-owned and expensive, patients who need drug detoxification are admitted in the government mental health institutions for about six weeks to allow drying up,” Mbofana said.
“Rehabilitation is important because it allows for the time to dry out from substance in a safe environment, it enables the patient to unlearn the maladaptive behaviour of substance abuse through the help of mental health professionals.”
Catholic Commission for Justice secretary at parish level, Nancy Mashave also concurred that rehabilitation is beyond the reach of most Zimbabweans.
“Rehabilitation is expensive for many people and unfortunately this has led to many going back to drugs as they fail to get assistance.
“Some facilities charge up to US$900 cash upfront for admission and this is beyond the reach of parents who take their children for treatment,” Mashave said.
“The dilemma is that the drugs are readily available as dealers are within the community but rehabs are few and expensive making the drug abuse rampant so it’s easier to get a fix than to go to a facility that will stop their drug dependency.”
According to a recent report by the Health Professionals Empowerment Trust, at least 50 percent of the admissions to local mental health institutions are attributed to substance abuse.
“Chronic use of substances causes changes in brain leading to mental health issues such as depression, paranoia, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, suicide, poor judgement and panic attacks,” the report stated.
“Prolonged drug abuse leads to mental disorders and users have violent outbursts especially if they do not have their fix so rehabilitation is needed for them to stop depending on drugs accordingly,” Mashave said.
“Lack of rehabilitation and long usage of drugs leads to mental illness, some become violent and in serious cases mentally retarded to an extent that they will have to depend on guardians for life.