Drug awareness on campus

​As we prepare to mark off Alchol Awareness month this April and move into Anti-Nicotine campaign month this May, the issue of drug awareness becomes even more important. According to the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use, Cannabis is the most common substance of use in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo among young people under the age of 20.

In 2008, the Medical Research Council reported that there were 3, 2 million South Africans who regularly consume dagga. But what are the effects?

Some studies suggest that marijuana is a gateway drug to other legal and illegal substances and could lead to the development of an addiction to other substances. For instance, a study using data from the National Epidemiological Study of Alcohol Use and Related Disorders found that adults who reported marijuana use during the first phase of the survey were more likely than adults who did not use marijuana to develop an alcohol use disorder within 3 years. Additionally, people who used marijuana and already had an alcohol addiction at the outset were at a greater risk of their alcohol addiction worsening.

Marijuana use is also linked to other substance use disorders including nicotine addiction. Eliot, a bar manager confirms the use of drugs often increases rapidly, when looking to chase a better high. "From there the addiction escalates to consuming 'harder' drugs," he says.

According to the Cape Town Drug Counseling Centre the effects off drugs are relaxation; users get lightheaded or giddy, feelings of extreme happiness- euphoria, false confidence, increased appetite, decreased concentration, memory loss, impaired judgement and a sense of false reality.

The long term effects include, addiction, a decrease in concentration and memory leads to learning difficulties, decreased motivation, impaired judgement and negative social behavior, a decrease in the immune system functioning, damage to organs especially the brain, heart and lungs, it can trigger mental illnesses where the user will live in a semi-permanent state of confusion and loss of reality, depression and a decrease in sexual health.

There are various methods of seeking help. Schools have professional personnel set in place to help students who need guidance and help to fight substance abuse

According to Hugo Phungwayo, Rosebank College Deputy President of the Student Council, "the institution does not have a Drug-Help Unit, but offers the Student Relations Manager (SRM) to help with issues."

However, with the SRM knowing about these problems, a student will then be referred to a rehabilitation Centre only with a parent's presence and permission

For other users seeking help or friends and family members looking to help their loved ones South African Depression and Anxiety Group and the Department of Social Development have set-up a toll-free substance abuse helpline in an effort to increase access to help, support and appropriate treatment for substance users.The number is 0800 121 314 

It might feel good and seem cool to do drugs, but the reality is that drugs have a long term effect on our lives and our future. Afterall, is a few minutes of euphoria worth a life time of self-inflicted health issues such as triggered mental illnesses. 


Written by Andiswa Madlopha and Hunadi Matlala

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