THE festive season is here and so are the horrors and excitement it usually comes with.
Youths succumb to peer pressure and end up either committing criminal offences or other vices such as engaging in drug abuse.
Most teenagers think that engaging in drugs is the best way to celebrate the festive season.
As a result, some youths engage in consumption of illegal drugs, the vice reported to be on the increase at shopping malls.
Most of them deal in these clandestine activities without realising that they are illegal and are candidates for prison.
This, therefore, places premium on parents to rise to the occasion in mentoring their children on good behaviour and protecting them from substance abuse and addiction.
While it is good practice for parents and guardians to give their children freedom, there is need to be aware of what the children are doing behind their backs.
Monitoring children and guiding them is part of the responsibilities of parents and guardians. This responsibility should not be overlooked despite the hectic schedules some parents and guardians may have.
It is, therefore, good parenting to always balance between work and family life because children are the future of the family and the nation.
That is why the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) has warned members of the public to desist from drug abuse during the festive season or risk facing the wrath of the law.
DEC deputy public relations officer Kamufisa Manchishi said parents and guardians should ensure that they pay particular attention to the activities of their children to avoid them getting involved in illicit activities such as abuse of drugs.
Mr Manchishi said most of the clients handled by the commission at its counselling centres are youths between the ages of 10-35.
He said this is indicative of various problems even at the family or household level.
The revelation by DEC is evidence that there has been significant growth in the consumption of drugs, especially the productive age.
Ages 10 to 35 is prime because that is when people have the energy required to develop this great nation.
It is a pity that instead of the country harnessing that prime age group, it is wasting its demographic dividend.
Most of the young people who are lured into consuming illicit drugs do not understand the negative consequences of drug abuse.
Drug abuse does not affect only individuals involved but has a spillover effect to their families, friends and their communities.
The visible effects of drug abuse, like the DEC has attested, which are manifested in the individuals who have been counselled by the commission, include ill health and sickness, among others.
Some people who have been on drugs for a long time are now beyond rehabilitation and look out of sorts.
The task of making Zambia a drug-free country should not be left to the DEC alone.
We have to work together in ensuring we eliminate substance abuse and addiction in our beautiful country.
Let us reinforce drug education campaigns to raise awareness on the dangers of substance abuse.
The ministries of General Education and Higher Education should consider including drug education in the school curriculum.