Alarming Rate of Substance Abuse among Adolescents


(Lusaka, 7th December, 2020) – A Mental Health Specialist has appealed to the church, Non-Governmental Organizations and Cooperate institutions to invest in recreational facilities for adolescents in the country in an effort to alleviate substance abuse which is currently on the rise in Zambia. Mr Pierre Birori, (above) a Researcher at the Lusaka Provincial Health office has called for partnership in the fight against alcohol and substance abuse among teenagers and young adults as they are future leaders. He says the effort of seeing an end to the alarming rise of substance abuse among youths can only be realized when key stakeholders work together in giving them alternative activities to place their energies in.
Mr Birori bemoaned the alarming rise in young people being admitted to mental health institutions in the country, most of which he attributed to inactivity and boredom among the youths. Mr Birori further attributed substance abuse among youths to the environment in their homes. He said if there is hostility in the home, adolescents rebel by engaging in a quick fix, which in most cases is alcohol and drugs which gives them a temporal emotional high. However, the substances they take are in most cases addictive, thereby creating a vicious cycle which then breeds behaviour such as theft in homes and outside the home in order to buy more substances that are harmful to health. Mr Birori said another factor to be considered is peer pressure among teenagers.
Responding to questions, Mr Birori urged parents to invest time and energy in raising responsible children despite their long work hours and busy schedules. He said parenting should not be left to teachers and babysitters alone, but should be the pride of every guardian or parent, if the future generations are to be secured. He commended parents who are taking time to attend to the physical and emotional needs of their children, and further added that there was room for more work to be done. He said the emotional and mental well-being of every child should be a priority to parents seeking to raise responsible adults. He further urged parents to avoid exposing their children to electronic devices that have internet access at an early age as this has the risk of children accessing information that is not appropriate for their age. He said the cyberspace is helpful for access to educational information only when used correctly and under adult supervision.
He has since called on parents to maximize on services offered by both the private and government mental health institutions dotted around the country whenever they need assistance with necessary parenting tips and help in dealing with youths struggling with alcohol and drug abuse.
Mr Birori was speaking at a public lecture held at Texila American University themed “Rate of Substance Abuse among Adolescents: What Can Parents Do?” in Lusaka.