I read an interesting article recently, it stated that 1 in 10 South Africans are struggling with some form of substance abuse. I wasn’t altogether shocked because when I was in my early twenties the rave scene was booming and taking drugs was a part of enjoying the party.
“What is one drag going to do?” or “Come on, you can’t get addicted the first time” were phrases I heard every time I turned my head. If I could rewind to those times and interject with “Actually yes, you can”, I would.
Fast forward a few years and the same people that attended those raves, popping pills, snorting lines or lighting up are split.
You have the addicts and burnouts and then you have the people who simply turned their backs on that part of their lives and, carried on.
In hindsight, I can clearly see who would become the ones who never stopped “partying” and the ones that would grow up and leave the party life behind but at the time, I thought they were all invincible.
But this isn’t about my past, this is about our future or rather, the future of our youth.
3RC recently conducted a study into whether the youth is exhibiting the same behaviour I witnessed all those years ago, and the scary thing is they are.
Of the learners surveyed, we found that 19% of the learners had experimented with drugs. More worrying was the drugs they had experimented with. As would be expected marijuana took the top spot with 65% of the learners who have experimented with drugs saying they had smoked marijuana before. This is quite evidently a problem and I turn to look at Hollywood and mainstream media for an explanation as to why they continually glamourise the use of this drug. Movies, TV series and many more continually reference the “goodness” of the drug but bear little regard for those that have addictive personalities and lives that are negatively influenced by drug use.
As many as 13% of the learners surveyed that said they had experimented with drugs admitted that they regularly use prescription medication in a recreational capacity. This is spread amongst LSM groups 6 to 10 so it’s not just the drug of choice for the very rich anymore.
Other drugs used include Heroin (2%), CAT (8%), Ecstasy (5%), Cocaine (5%), and TIK (2%) bear in mind that this is all before these kids even leave high school.
I see drugs as drugs, one hit of one type of drug is not better or worse than another and I feel that kids are not educated about this as well as they could be.
Our youth feels invincible and see the high as the only effect that matters. They aren’t told about how your reflexes and wits become dull the more marijuana you smoke, or that the moment you inject heroin your life belongs to the drug. TV shows romanticise drug dealers and seldom show the true lives of dealers moving in and out of the prison system.
They aren’t told that drug use can become drug abuse just because of a chemical imbalance in your brain. They aren’t told how to say no to drugs. “Just say no” is not as easy as you would like it to be when you’re at a party surrounded by your friends with a line of white powder on the table in front of you and the eager eyes of your friends fixed on you.
Parents need to converse with their children about the dangers of drugs and educate themselves about the warning signs. All parents should know how to spot when their child is on any of the various mind-altering substances. We as a community need to place a greater emphasis on the effects and usage of drugs at all age levels so that parents are informed of the dangers.
And if you are on drugs, reading this, nobody can force you to stop, only you can make that choice, and I hope you do.
Narcotics Anonymous – 083 900 69 62
SANCA – 086 14 72622 (Toll Free)