Alarming rate of substance abuse among adolescents worrying – Mental Health Specialist

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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.

Pierre Birori, 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 saying the future leadership must be preserved.

Speaking at a public lecture held at Texila American University in Lusaka under theme; “Rate of Substance Abuse among Adolescents: What Can Parents Do?”

Birori said the effort of seeing an end to the frightening rise of substance abuse among youths could only be realized when key stakeholders work together in giving them alternative activities to place their energies in.

Birori bemoaned the alarming rise in young people being admitted to mental health institutions in the country, saying inactivity and boredom among the youths was contributing to the drug abuse.

He further attributed substance abuse among youths to the environment they were raised.

“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,” Birori said.

“Another factor to be considered is peer pressure among teenagers.”

And responding to questions, Birori advised parents to invest time and energy in raising responsible children despite their long and busy work 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.

Birori commended parents who are taking time to attend to the physical and emotional needs of their children, adding that there was room for more work to be done.

“The emotional and mental well-being of every child should be a priority to parents seeking to raise responsible adults,” he said.

He further advised parents to avoid exposing their children to electronic devices that have internet access at an early age, saying the gadget could put children at risk of accessing inappropriate information which was meant for the adult.

“The cyberspace is helpful for access to educational information only when used correctly and under adult supervision,” said Birori.

He 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.

By Choolwe Mweemba

Kalemba December 15, 2020

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