The economic crisis has driven young people in Zimbabwe to use ever more desperate means to get drunk and high.
Some have been boiling new or used baby diaper nappies and drinking the resulting liquid. The juice is known as “juice of Pampers”.
The use unorthodox ways to get high is common in Zimbabwe’s high-density suburbs, where idle unemployed youths cannot afford legal alcohol.
“Beer is too expensive – I cannot afford it. Crystal meth is cheaper and gets me very high for more hours than beer,” a 25-year-old man who refused to be named told inews.com.
“We know the health consequences but there is nothing we can do about it. What can we do? Nothing. This is Zimbabwe, things are hard. There are no jobs.”
In high-density areas, where poverty levels are high, it is common to see people drunk or drugged, sleeping on pavements or stuck by roadsides after abusing drugs such as crystal meth.
The local slang word, “KuSticker” refers to people struggling to walk or talk after being drunk or high.
Chirikure Chirikure, a social commentator, poet and artist, said the youths abusing illegal substances are frustrated by the difficult economic situation in the country.
“The reason points primarily to the economic circumstances that the youths are facing. It also narrows down to unemployment then the frustrations that come with the challenges they are facing. A high number of them are so frustrated that they try to hide behind drugs,” Chirikure told inews.co.uk.
“And those youths who are employed and getting a bit of money here and there still have challenges. In a normal economy or society, when someone leaves college they will be living on their own, seeing a bit of progress in their lives. But now these youths spend time idle just doing nothing at home.”
He said young people are not getting enough information about the danger of taking illicit drugs and factors such as peer pressure also come into play.
“We need concerted efforts that complement each other. Sometimes you find a youth goes for rehabilitation after a couple of weeks they come back under the same circumstances, same environment and he relapses,” he added.
He added that the government needs to address the problem of drug abuse but “while there is so much is being said, nothing is being done from that level.
Dr Norman Matara, a doctor in the capital, Harare, said drug abuse by youths is a major concern in the country, which has resulted in many deaths.
Ivan Zhakata, a president of Drinkers Association of Zimbabwe (DAZ), an association formed recently to encourage responsible drinking, said drug abuse is affecting young people in Zimbabwe.
“We have noticed an influx of drugs such as crystal meth and the boiling of Pampers in the high-density suburbs,” Zhakata said.
“We would like to urge younger generation to desist from taking drugs and harmful substances.”