Lack of parental care fuelling drugs, gambling addictions in Malawian adolescents

Malawian adolescents

A psycho social counselor at Saint John of God says the tendency by some people to take gaming and gambling as a source of income rather than pleasure has perpetuated various forms of addictions.

Tabitha Dzoole explained that issues of addiction from gambling and drug use cut across affecting people from different aspects rendering them dysfunctional hence the community based mental health institution helps them become functional again.

She indicated there are several causes of addictions arising from psycho-social issues such as loss of a loved one, separation, divorce, feeling inadequate, lonely and issues of detachment from the primary care-giver.

According to her, this is mostly common in adolescents when they feel like they no longer receive the type of attention and love from the parents.

“Most of the times nowadays parents are busy with work, or business so to have time for their children it’s no longer there. So once one starts to feel that they are no longer attached to their parents, then they will feel being inadequate; they’ll start feeling not being loved, being rejected as a result they will find another object of attaching to.

st jonh
Dzoole: Most of the times nowadays parents are busy with work, or business

“So basically most of the times the object of attaching that is there its drug and alcohol use and others also resort into addictive behaviors as gambling. But in our situation, most of the time most people do gamble because of lack of money, poverty it’s the main contributor and people are taking gambling or gaming activities just to source money of which it’s not like that. Gaming activities are supposed to be for pleasure fun activities”.

Dzoole who is also Coordinator for addiction recovery services at the Lilongwe St John of God described the situation at the Hospitaller as critical particularly for adolescents and young adults.

When they come, they are assessed and from the problems identified, it helps them in designing necessary interventions to the patients.

Offering mental health services: Saint John of God 

However, not every problem will require residential care as some require outpatient therapies whereby they may come to access individual counseling services or may opt not to join the residential programme but group therapy from out-patient department.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in reduced turn-over of clients patronizing their services due to the travel restrictions which were imposed then and at the same time; it created problems because people went into isolation.

“There were experiencing a lot of stress, so the only way of coping was through alcohol use or drug use so in one way or the other, it accelerated the problem but also at the same time seeking help has been a problem simply because the nature of COVID-19 as it was”.

Established in 2019, St John of God has a drop-in centre where patients are attended to by counselors after observing a surge of cases in drug and substance abuse and struggling to change addiction habits.