Investigation of the Effects of Drug Abuse

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In investigation of the effects of drug abuse on adolescents’ academic performance various theoretical perspectives were utilized and strategies to curb drug use were also identified. The study was conducted in Triangle: Chiredzi; Masvingo Province of Zimbabwe. The participants were from 3 High schools. The students’ ages were ranging from 12 to 21 years. A descriptive survey design combining both qualitative and quantitative research strategies was employed. The researcher used a purposive sampling technique. The sample size represented 10% of 30 schools in Chiredzi District.

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Secondary data and questionnaires with open and closed questions and secondary data were used as data collection tools. From the results of the study substances abused by the participants include alcohol, broncleer, glue and marijuana. Individual, family and environmental factors contribute to the use of these substances. Another primary factor identified as contributing to substance abuse among adolescents is peer pressure. The study has shown that drug abuse do affect academic performance among adolescents in Triangle. However lack of laboratories made it difficult for researcher to obtain the exact effect which was caused by drugs on adolescents’ reasoning and analytical skills. It was noted that not only drugs affect academic performance but other factor like lack of resources. However, the study managed to highlight on strategies that can be employed to address substance abuse in schools. All stakeholders are commended to make efforts of addressing the problem of substance abuse among children.


I would like to thank Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the wisdom and the guidance to complete this study.

I also want to acknowledge the following important players for their guidance and support which was valuable:

The Community Development Department of Triangle for giving me permission to carry out my research in 3 High Schools.

The participants for contributing their knowledge and partaking in the study

The department of psychology for approving the study

Mr Samson Z, my supervisor, for his leadership, unwavering support and patience

Wisdom Sibanda; Busani Lunga; Chido Mutowo; and Moreblessing Zawa my friends and colleagues for their continued support and encouragement.

Lastly my Pastor John Chibwe for the inspiration he gave me.



Drug abuse among youth continues to be a fundamental problem worldwide, and in particular, Zimbabwe (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). Substances such as, cannabis, alcohol, cigarettes are typically initiated during adolescence, an important time of transition between childhood and adulthood, and this is what has been witnessed in Triangle. Given the widespread use of cannabis by adolescents and the fact that its intoxicating effects include cognitive and psychomotor impairment, there have been increasing concerns about its effects on educational performance (Hall, 2000).

The World Drug Report provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health. The report highlights the scientific evidence for hepatitis C causing greatest harm among people who use drugs; and brings into view further diversification of the thriving drug market, as well as changing business models for drug trafficking and organized crime. Hence there is need to confront the much harm inflicted by drugs to health, development, peace and security in all regions in the world.

Drug abuse in Africa is escalating hastily from cannabis abuse to the greater dangerous drugs and from confined groups of drug users to a wider vary of people abusing drugs. Most young people begin the usage of drugs as young as 12 years of age (Karen, 2008). These adolescents would then proceed to use other drugs such as cannabis and tough drugs (Berk, 2007). Adolescents use materials for a range of reasons and contributing elements include their peer group pressure, family troubles and stress relief (Rice and Dolgin, 2008). Hence there is broad unfold of drug abuse the world over considering that these young people encounter. These adolescents do no longer take into considerations the lengthy term effect of these drugs on their lives.

The Department of Education postulates that adolescents who abuse drugs become aggressive to their parents, educators, different learners, and different members of the community. The use of drugs by students additionally affects their academic performance to go below the predicted National Standards (Department of Education, 2008). Some of these adolescents tend to drop out of school and leading to the rising degree of illiteracy. In addition, some male adolescents are arrested by the police due to the fact of their involvement in crook offences such as robbery, house breaking; store lifting, theft of stock, rape and murder (South African Police Service, 2007).

A report produced by the police, that marked the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking revealed that Harare had the highest rate of drug abuse in the country between 2015 and 2016 having over 100 cases recorded every month.. At school, drug abuse result in a lowered commitment to education, declining grades, absenteeism from school and increasing potential for dropping out. (The Financial Gazette November 29 2016). Various organisations control the flow of substances and discourage the youth from getting involved with substances. Despite their effort to control substance use among adolescents, recent national survey done indicate that the use of substances is still on the rise (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Module, Substance Abuse and HIV/AIDS).

1.2 statement of the problem

Abuse of drugs amongst adolescents is associated with an extensive range of high-risk behaviour. This kind of behaviour by the adolescents can have profound health, economic and social consequences, for example, some take part in deviant peer groups, unprotected sexual intercourse, interpersonal violence, destruction of property and operate poorly in their studies. The short time period outcomes of drug abuse can consist of issues in memory, learning, problem solving and thinking, distorted sensory. Hence, drug abusers aged 12 to 21 are greater probably to be low educational achievers than their counterparts.

1.3 justification of the study

The most important factor of this research is to assess and stop or minimize drug abuse among adolescents. A survey by Shedler and Block (1990), suggests that regular use of alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana among young people cause them to develop a substance dependence disorder and to suffer from addiction. The essence of this study is to warn adolescents about the dangers of abusing marijuana that is likely to affect their academic performance and antisocial behaviours such as engaging in unprotected sex and have multiple sex partners therefore placing them at risk for unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The study is therefore important since it will benefit the adolescents academically and also to promote their health since they will prevent themselves from diseases such as lung cancer

The study is expected to lay out different practical solutions to mitigate the effects of drug abuse as worsened by lack of government support amongst other reasons. While Chiredzi has historically known for higher rates of STIs and HIV and AIDS it is of particular importance that adolescents play a pivotal role because they indulge in unprotected sex after taking marijuana because they are high. The practicality of solutions and strategies in Zimbabwe has not been fully assessed. Laws have not been fully implemented such as no under 18 in clubs where adolescents might buy drugs including marijuana. As such the study is expected to contribute to literature and knowledge of the best counter in alleviating drug use amongst adolescents and how they can be best imparted to the locals hence a benefit to the society as a whole.

The study is significant in that it generates findings, lessons and recommendations on how drug abuse can effectively harnessed by government. It is hoped that this will influence programmatic approaches and interventions aimed at reducing drug use such as group counselling just to mention a few among adolescence.

Dekker, Leanor & Lemmer (1994), posits that statistics of teenage drug abuse, failure in academic performance, unwanted pregnancy make it apparent that it is a matter of urgency to educate young people to become responsible adults who will be able to control their behaviour in anticipation of the moral consequences of the decisions that they exercise. The research shall be also used as a knowledge base for those who want to know about the subject especially the adolescents. More so, it will help in policy making and alleviating of drug use among adolescents in Zimbabwe, hence improving the nation’s academic education and on the global market too.

1.4 Hypothesis

Null Hypothesis: There is no relationship between drug abuse and academic performance

1.5 Aim of the study: the purpose of the study is to investigate effects of drug abuse on adolescents’ academic performance

1.6 Objectives

  • To identify the causes of drug abuse
  • To explore how drug abuse affect academic performance.
  • To explore ways of solving drug abuse among adolescents

1.7 Assumptions of the study

  • Many adolescents in Triangle are drug abusers
  • Adolescents who abuse drugs perform poorly at school
  • Sudden aggressive behaviour and delinquency is a significant correlate of drug abuse.

1.9 Delimitations

This research has been specifically carried out with adolescents attending school. The study puts focus on investigating the effects of drug abuse on academic performance using qualitative and quantitative research methods. In this research, adolescents have a standard definition of 12 to 21years of age. The school attending adolescents participated in this study. Having this in mind, it will not be fair to generalised the findings to school leavers and adolescents in other areas of Zimbabwe as conditions may differ. Triangle is a sugarcane plantation where people live in compounds which are crowded. These compounds are Rufaro, Mufakose, Runyararo, Ruponeso and sections which range from 3 to 66. However, the results may additionally be used to increase strategies and intervention to curb drug abuse. Triangle is a small town in Masvingo province and is positioned 125km South East from Masvingo town between Ngungu Growth Point and Chiredzi town. The town is located in the Eastern low veld of Zimbabwe and contains approximately 40 000 people (World Gazetter 2011).

1.10 Definitions of Terms

Drug – refers to any psychoactive substance that may modifies mood, perception, cognition and/or behaviour

Abuse maladaptive pattern of recurrent use extending over a period of 12 months continuing social, occupational psychological, physical or safety problems

Substance – is a narcotic or stimulant especially one causing addiction

Adolescent – is a bridge between childhood and adulthood (17 to 21 years)

Effect – west (1999), described it as a result of a cause produced on the mind

Student is one who is formally enrolled in a registered educational institution under the guidance of a trainer

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Investigation of the Effects of Drug Abuse. (2020, Mar 09). Retrieved from