The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in Eastern province has bemoaned the escalating cases of drug and alcohol abuse in schools.
DEC Regional Commander Martin Chitamba disclosed at the weekend that the commission has in the past two years counselled 165 pupils for alcohol and drug abuse related problems.
Mr. Chitamba said the province has during the same period prosecuted 205 people for various drug related offences.
He was speaking in Chipata during the commemoration of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking which falls every year on the 26th of June.
This year’s commemoration was under the theme “Share facts on drugs, Save Lives”.
“These statistics are worrying, translating that the drug scourge is ever increasing. Therefore, this calls for consented efforts from all well-meaning citizens to join the fight against drug abuse and trafficking in order to attain a drug free and safe environment where our young people can grow into responsible citizens,” he said.
He said the commission remains committed to sharing facts on drugs in order to save lives and rid communities of illicit drug related activities.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Acting Permanent Secretary (PS) Royd Tembo, who was guest of honour at the event, said there was need for families and individuals battling with alcoholism and drug abuse to seek early assistance.
Mr. Tembo said alcohol and substance abuse has become a major social concern in the province and nation as a whole.
“Illicit drug use is a serious concern as it poses significant challenges. The harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs can have serious social and economic consequences for individuals, families and society as a whole,” he said.
He noted that women and children are extremely vulnerable in families where drug and alcohol abuse is experienced.
“There is an urgent need to provide a whole range of community based services for the identification and counselling of addicts,” he said, adding that alcoholism and drug abuse was a psycho-social medical problem requiring a holistic approach.
As part of the commemoration, the DEC donated assorted items including mealie meal, sugar, cleaning materials, among others, to Magwero school for the blind, Magwero school for the deaf and Magwero standard school.
And Acting Head teacher for Magwero school for the deaf, Nybert Soko, said pupils with special needs were not shying away from vices related to drug and alcohol abuse.
Mr. Soko disclosed that the school has in the past dealt with three cases of alcohol abuse per term but the numbers have now reduced due to interventions the institution has put in place.
“We have a guidance and counselling unit as the school and this is helping us deal with such issues”, he said.