Addiction is on the rise among South African youth. If you’re a parent, guardian or friend of a teen, this is what you need to know.
Drug addiction in all its forms continues to be a huge problem for South Africa, and recent statistics paint a grim picture of teens and drug abuse in our country.
The impact of addiction
There are several potential health risks for young users, including increased risk of injury and death due to either violence or accidents, increased probability of risky sexual behaviour that could result in teen pregnancy or STIs, and increased risk for suicidal behaviour and psychiatric disorders.
Why teens are abusing drugs
Teenage years are historically prone to experimentation, and the desire to indulge in adult activities like smoking, drinking alcohol and having sex are not uncommon among this group. Teenagers are more susceptible to drug abuse because they’re at a natural stage of rebellion. They’re likely to experiment and are more impulsive – it’s part of their normal development.
Other reasons teenagers are more prone to abuse include:
- To relieve stress.
- To escape their problems.
- To feel special.
- To belong to a special group.
Tell-tale signs of addiction
If you don’t have concrete evidence that your child is taking drugs, you should always trust your gut and talk to them candidly about your concerns. You might also want to be aware of the following signs of drug addiction:
- Bloodshot eyes or pupils that are larger or smaller than normal
- Frequent nosebleeds (related to snorting drugs)
- Changes in sleep and appetite patterns
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Deterioration in grooming or personal hygiene
- Unusual smells on breath, body or clothing
- Shakes, tremors or slurred speech
- Decreased academic performance
What you can do
A loving relationship with open channels of communication is a good place to start. You can’t stop your teen from experimenting, but you can create safe spaces for sharing so that you can help if they are in trouble. If you suspect addiction or suicidal tendencies as a result of drug dependency, seek help immediately.
If you suspect that you or someone nearby is suffering from a drug or alcohol overdose, call for an ambulance immediately. Do not leave the person alone; stay with them until medical professionals arrive.
If you witness to an overdose, and the person has passed out, they should be placed on their side just in case they vomit. This should help prevent any choking accidents, should it occur. The person should also not eat or drink anything. If friends know what substances were taken, they should report this to emergency responders so appropriate treatment can be given.Leave a reply →