Before, During, and After

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Substance abuse is the use of drugs and other intoxicating materials like alcohol. The moment you find that you cannot go a day without a “hit” or a “tot”, it means you have fallen into the trap of substance abuse.  With so much access to drugs, it is very hard to quit or not abuse drugs. These days, “saying no” does not cut it because someone can get you into a drug without you even knowing it. You can be sucked into alcoholism without realising that one more glass is a bad idea. You become dependent on this numbing substance because you feel you have control over it. Many students use drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism from study pressures. How will this lifestyle affect them in the long run? The direct and indirect impact falls to everyone. Your family. Your friends. Your schooling. In a society like ours there are many drugs that are not controlled and thereby make it to the ends of the earth polluting young minds and killing hopes and dreams of building a better nation.

For some of us we wish to ignore the truths that roam around us every day. Looking at the fact that there are many factors that can drive an individual to substance abuse means that each one of us knows one, has played a part in one and has orchestrated one. While others do it for the thrill of being high; others face life threatening situations that lead to substance abuse as an escape from the reality of these situations. An example of one is prostitution. As much as you can get home and claim to need a glass of wine because you feel like you had a bad day; it is the same way a sex worker can get home after a night of a series of men coming in and out of her chambers and say “I need a hit”. It is therapeutic for them to try and forget what the just went through. As soon as that high dies down they need to get another dose to keep the pain at bay. This routine is something they have to go through instead of asking for help because they being judged.

In some instances, especially for varsity students, they use substances as a way to fit into certain social crowds. The beauty of it is that these individuals have other choices besides the abuse of drugs but this route is just too tempting because of their peers. We do not always come across the right type of friends the first time around and if you are unlucky you will find friends that promote drugs. Claiming that when you are high you are in your most open-minded state –Marijuana. Saying the feeling is “intoxicatingly” beautiful. Well that is no lie. It is a wonderful feeling but not when you have deadlines to meet. Not when you have to wake up and get your life together because you will be driven into a life of excuse and procrastinating. It is sad that most students will defend substances and say that they work for them when they are just only looking at the short term effects. The long term effects are often ignored because by the time they catch up with you will already be thinking that you have your life together only to realise that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

Recreational drug use is the biggest excuse for most drug users and it has people lobbying for certain drug to be legalized because they want to do them freely. This does not help a nation. It kills because by using drugs freely one may end up engaging in acts that endanger other people (Crime). You enter into unsafe relationships that lead to abuse because one druggie in a relationship with another means physical abuse. Not just to themselves but their loved ones too. Children pick up habits from parents who use substances and the cycle continues. HIV/AIDS is spread through the unsafe sex because once you are high you do not care how you express yourself and you engage in unsafe practices. Alcoholism and drug abuse are siblings in society. They seem to be the strongest pair in destroying lives that start of promising and turn them into nothing.

However it seems that there is a way out for people who want help. The government is on the verge of eradicating drug use and alcohol abuse by working with communities in educating the population from a young age about substances and their dangers. They have initiatives like ‘Ke Moja –I’m fine without Drug.’ By the Department of Social Development and the City of Johannesburg has the Strategy on Anti-Drug and Substance Abuse prevention. The Institute of HIV/AIDS (IOHA) offers services that include HIV education programmes; campaigns counselling; and support to students in relation to HIV/AIDS Related issues. It is obvious that not only these initiatives can fight against substance abuse and the spread of HIV/AIDS. It is the greater population that needs to stand together and say “No Drug will be taken under my watch!” “I will engage in safe sex (condomize)”. Reach out and support those that have already fallen deep into the pit of substance.

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