Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Africa

                               EXTENT, PATTERNS AND TRENDS IN DRUG ABUSE

Extent of Drug Abuse

Cannabis is reported to be the most abused drug in Zambia, followed by heroin and volatile solvents (U.N. 1990).  Some abuse of methaqualone has been reported in Zambia (INCB 1993).

            According to 1993 estimates, 31,114 drug abusers have been on record in Lusaka, the capital city (ICPO 1993).

Abuser Characteristics

Most abusers are males, and tend to be between 15 to 35 years of age.  About 10 per cent of the cannabis abusers and 5 per cent of the heroin abusers are females (U.N. 1990).

            Cannabis abuse cross all social strata, including employed, unemployed, and students (U.N. 1987, 1990).

                                                                       Regional Variations

According to data from the 1990 Annual Reports Questionnaire, there are more cannabis abusers in urban settings (U.N. 1990).  However, traditional and cultural use is also common in rural societies (U.N. 1988).


There are signs that cannabis cultivation is increasing throughout Africa, but mainly in six countries, Zambia being one of them (INCB 1993).

            Recently, the government of Zambia, among the ones of some other African countries, has been increasingly reporting cases involving heroin abuse (INCB 1993).

Mode of Intake

Cannabis is usually smoked.  Benzodiazepines is abused in combination with alcohol and cannabis (U.N. 1990).


A report from Lusaka (Zambia), highlighted the death of six persons due to heroin overdose in 1993 (ICPO 1993).

            Although no statistics are available, intravenous use (IVU) of heroin is reported spreading (Zambia 1993).




National Strategy

A new Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances bill was approved in parliament in 1993, in conformity with the U.N. Convention of 1988. The bill aims to deprive drug traffickers of the proceeds of their criminal activities, thereby eliminating the main incentive for trafficking. The bill also revises and consolidates the law relating to illicit use and dealing of drugs, introducing stiffer penalties for persons abusing and dealing drugs (UNDCP 1993a).

            The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), which was formed as a coordinating body to combat alcohol and drug abuse, was given the authority to deal with all drug related matters in Zambia including law enforcement and education (U.N. 1990; UNDCP 1993a).

            Interdiction efforts have been intensified and Zambia is redoubling its fight against drug trafficking and related issues.  Efforts are also being made to further strengthen the DEC (Zambia 1992).

            The National Education Campaign Division (NECD) has sprung from the endeavors of the ILO implemented project aiming at the development of Resource Centres for alcohol and drug abuse and at the prevention of workplace related problems (UNDCP 1993a).

                                                    Structure of National Drug Control Organs

The central government unit responsible for liaison and coordination of national drug control policy is the Director of Pharmaceutical Services within the Ministry of Health.

                                          LEGAL, ADMINISTRATIVE AND OTHER ACTION
                                           TAKEN TO IMPLEMENT THE INTERNATIONAL
                                                           DRUG CONTROL TREATIES**

                                                                         Treaty Adherence

Zambia is party to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

                                                 Measures Taken with Respect to Drug Control

Recently enacted laws and regulations:
None reported.

Licensing system for manufacture, trade and distribution:
There is a government-controlled licensing system for both narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. No manufacture of psychotropic substances and narcotic drugs takes place.

Control system:
(i) Prescription requirement: There is a prescription requirement for supply or dispensation of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(ii) Warnings on packages: The law requires warnings on packages or accompanying leaflet information to safeguard the users of preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
(iii) Control of non-treaty substances, if any: None reported.
(iv) Other administrative measures: In 1989, the Government of Zambia established the Drug Enforcement Commission, housed within the Ministry of Home Affairs, to deal with all matters related to drug abuse and traffickers.


                                                                          Social Measures

Penal sanctions related to social measures: In 1990, courts applied measures of treatment, education, after-care, rehabilitation or social reintegration for a drug-related offence neither as an alternative nor in addition to conviction or punishment.

Other social measures: None reported.

                                                       DEMAND REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Primary Prevention

The media promotes drug prevention campaigns, including radio and television presentations, lecture material, brochures and calendars, all sponsored by the government (EFDR 1993).  A programme depicting negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse was aired on national television (U.N. 1990).

            In secondary schools there are Anti-Drug Abuse clubs, which help monitor alcohol and drug related problems among the school population (U.N. 1987, 1990).

            Workplace programmes against alcohol and drug abuse are particularly targeted at vulnerable industries such as hotels, brewery, airways and insurance companies (U.N. 1990).

            Community-wide programmes, as well as prevention programmes in the workplace, are also sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) (EFDR 1993).  There is a community activation programme at the Chainama College of Health Sciences. Other youth programmes on small informal scales are also available (U.N. 1987, 1990).

Treatment and Rehabilitation

In Zambia there is no legislation pertaining to drug abuse but, like any other dependency arising from licit drugs, abusers are treated as sick persons (EFDR 1993).

            In 1990, Zambia introduced, in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a programme of action on the establishment of rehabilitation Resource Centres designed for six countries in the Southern Region.  The National Education Campaign Division (NECD), which is also referred to as the National Resource Centre for Drug Addicts, has programmes sponsored by the government as well as by ILO (EFDR 1993).

            Since National Education Campaign Division (NECD) does not have detoxification services, abusers are referred to a mental hospital which is able to handle the drying out process.  After abusers are discharged, they are referred to NECD for counselling and aftercare support (EFDR 1993).  Volunteer organizations (Young Women's Christian Association, Lions Club, Rotary Club) and Churches work closely with the Division (Report Forum 1993).

            In counselling of abusers, the Whole Person Recovery concept is used to enable a person to become integrated into normal functioning again (EFDR 1993).

                                                        SUPPLY REDUCTION ACTIVITIES

Arrests, Convictions and Types of Offenses

In 1992, 132 persons were arrested, 108 prosecuted and 68 convicted for drug-related matters.  Another 26 Zambians were arrested abroad in connection with trafficking of mandrax, cocaine and cannabis.  In July 1993, seven persons were arrested for possession of cannabis (UNDCP 1993b).



In 1992, 1,226.998 kg of cannabis herb, 2.410 kg of cocaine (base and salts), 0.004 kg of morphine and 1,669,502 units of methaqualone were seized (Other 1992).

            In 1991, 1,762.070 kg of cannabis herbs, 2.600 kg of heroin, 1.161 kg of morphine, 0.024 kg of synthetic narcotics and 1,004,262 units of methaqualone were seized (Other 1991).

                                                                    Supply Source of Drugs

Zambia has long been a transit country for illicit narcotic drugs, principally methaqualone (mandrax), smuggled from Eastern Africa and India for distribution networks in South Africa (ICPO 1993).  Illicit methaqualone trafficking and cultivation of cannabis are on the increase.  A close link between economic downturns in the region and illicit drug trafficking has been observed, especially of methaqualone which has become a medium of exchange for imported manufactured goods such as motor vehicles, machinery, and groceries (Zambia 1992). 

            Zambia is also a transit country for heroin traffic which is smuggled from Kenya and Tanzania. There are concerns about increased heroin abuse as a result of trafficking and the consequential spill-over effect (U.N. 1990; Zambia 1992; UNDCP 1993a).

            Transshipment of Southwest Asian heroin and South American cocaine to markets in Europe and North America by West Africans using Zambian travel documents and couries is a growing concern (INCSR 1993).


References and Notes

U.N. 1987,1988,1990,1991. Replies to the UNDCP "Annual Reports Questionnaires" for the years 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1991.

EFDR 1993.  Drug Enforcement Commission.  A Country Report Presented at the UNDCP Expert Forum on Demand Reduction.  Nairobi, Kenya, 1-5 November, 1993.

ICPO 1993.  ICPO Report 42/93.

INCB 1993.  Report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 1993.

INCSR 1993.  International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.  US Department of State.  Bureau of International Narcotics Matters.  April 1993.

Other 1991, 1992.  Data obtained from one or more seizure reports provided by Governments or from other official sources for the years 1991 and 1992.

Report Forum 1993.  Report of the Extent Forum on Demand Reduction in East and Southern Africa.  Nairobi, Kenya, 1-5 November 1993.

UNDCP 1993a. Mission to Zambia, 28-31 July 1993.

UNDCP 1993b. UNDCP Supply Reduction data base.

Zambia 1992. "A Country Situation Report by the Minister of Home Affairs in the Government of Zambia". At the 35th U.N. Commission Session Against Illicit Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Vienna.

Zambia 1993. Declaration of the Zambian Delegation at the 36th U.N. Commission Session Against Illicit Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Vienna.


** The Legal, Administrative and Other Action Taken to Implement the International Drug Control Treaties section was prepared by the Secretariat of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs based on Annual Reports Questionnaires for the years 1988-90.