Sanca addresses pupils on drug and alcohol abuse

2015-06-24 06:00

SOUTH African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) celebrates the annual Drug Awareness Week which begins today, 24 June.

Most parents find it difficult to imagine their child being involved in drug or alcohol abuse however, research shows that 35% of adolescents in South Africa drink alcohol and 29% binge-drink.

Garland Sam, director of Scripture Union (SU), said there is an increasing problem of primary and high-school children using and abusing drugs.

“More and more children are getting kicked out of school [because of this],” he said.

Sam said the age for experimentation is getting younger. “Some children are so far into drugs from a young age that it isn’t easy for them to emerge from the environment. The children don’t want to stick out from the crowd so they get involved in the wrong things,” said Sam.

The misconception that drugs only affects the poorer, more rural areas needs to be broken.

“Drugs affect anyone, anywhere at any time, regardless of where they stay or what school they go to.”

A reformed drug addict, who requested to remain anonymous, said he was encouraged to begin doing drugs when he was in Grade 9.

“Drugs were in my community. Everyone was doing it - all my friends - so I tried it too. It began with just cigarettes and then you graduate to dagga. It’s also so freely available. When you are a beginner, the older boys give you the drugs for free. Then, once you are used to smoking it, you have to contribute and buy the rest.”

He said he turned his life around when SU visited his school.

“SU leaders visited us often and they explained how doing drugs will affect us. They made the examples so relevant and formed relationships with us, that is when I left the group and gave up drugs.”

He managed to matriculate, is currently studying, volunteers at SU and has started a small group in his community to help children who might be going through the same thing.

“All the other boys who were involved in drugs with me in school never got out. I was the only one who turned my life around. Now I feel it is my duty to help other young children,” he said

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