Zimbabwe: 70 Percent of Psychiatric Problems Alcohol/Drug Related

14 June 2019

A soaring numbers of people admitted at different psychiatric hospitals are reportedly suffering from mental health problems due to growing levels of drug/substance abuse, ministry of health and child care has revealed.

Speaking at a social influencers on drug and alcohol workshop in Harare yesterday, Mental Health Services Department Deputy Director in the health ministry, Dr Chido Rwafa expressed worry on the emergence of new and deadly drugs on the informal market which she said was attributed to mental health problems in society.

"70% of psychiatric issues are drug/alcohol related. Substance abuse is now one of the top three problems in mental health and it's the major cause of admissions into the mental institutions in all ten provinces," said Rwafa.

The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro encouraged musicians to write and perform music that has a positive influence on the lives of youths.

"Social influencers have a role to play since their music influences most youth. Youths are abusing substance and drugs from as young as twelve," said Mangwiro.

One of the musicians Tererai Mugwadi gave her testimony on how she recovered from an addiction of alcohol and encouraged other musicians to come out and motivate youths positively.

"We need to invest more into the development of our mental health care institutions. We need more treatment centres that are dedicated to addiction problems," said Seh Calaz another musician.

Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of mental disorders among people admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Alcohol abuse accounted for 24 percent (illicit alcohol) and 56 percent (beer). After alcohol, the most commonly used substances include tobacco products (47 percent), cannabis (mbanje -- 39 percent) and cough syrups (22 percent).

The drugs alter brain function resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behaviour.

Benzodiazepines, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin are part of the psychoactive drugs.

Other substances abused here in Zimbabwe include BronCleer commonly known as 'Bronco", Maragada, diazepam, "musombodhiya", steroids, tegu-tegu and Zed.

Twenty percent of participants had no entry on substance use in their case notes and the substance use histories documented were poorly detailed, according to the study.

Zimbabwe's Health and Child Care Ministry estimates that more than 1,3 million people suffer from mental disorders across the country with depression accounted for more than 40 percent of mental problems.

Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo has an average in-patient population of 600 patients and a monthly out-patient population of 1 400.

The musicians are expected to host an anti drug/substance awareness festival soon.

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