Research has revealed that unemployed urban men, under the age of 35, who have completed secondary education are the main drug and substance abusers in the country.
This group constitutes 80 percent of males in regions, including Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan, Matabeleland South and Mashonaland West.
This was revealed at a Drug and Substance Abuse Demand Reduction Strategy Workshop hosted by the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Development and Vocational Training.
One of the speakers, Dr Samson Mhizha, suggested that social expectations of young men finishing secondary school as well as unemployment and health issues such as HIV/Aids were factors contributing to addiction.
He said there is little considerable treatment gap of the abusers due to stigmatisation and marginalisation.
“The issue of taking drugs among young males is a sort of escapism due to social expectations of the male child soon after finishing secondary education.
“Family tends to focus more on the girl child forgetting that young men also need the same love and affection. Therefore, this issue of drugs is attention seeking behaviour.
“Young men need to be socialised to express their emotions and feelings when it comes to life’s burdens so as not to resort to drugs.
“There is a considerable treatment gap due to stigma and marginalisation which prompts them not to go for treatment.
“These young men also do not have health coverage or financial support to go to private rehabilitation centres.
“There is a need for the Government to come up with rehabilitation centres that are affordable to cater for these demographics,” said Dr Mhizha.