Drugs are a growing problem in South Africa with younger children every day falling prey to addiction. Among the contributing factors are peer pressure, lack of parental guidance, family problems and stress.
While many parents realise the seriousness of drug abuse, not all know how severe the consequences can be. Drug use can have severe long-term consequences such as liver and brain damage, heart attacks, kidney failure, respiratory and nervous system problems, cancer, headaches, drowsiness and impaired concentration.
Parents can play an important role in prevention. Be open with children and discuss the temptations and dangers of drugs and peer pressure. Always keep communication channels open. Be aware of your children's friends and activities. In other words, be a part of their lives. This way you will help prevent experimentation with drugs and notice if your children become involved.
Warning signs include constant tiredness, red eyes, truancy, an increase or decrease in appetite, stealing, lying, unusual stains on fingertips and aggressive behaviour. Though one or more of these "symptoms" might be indicative of drug use, they could also be because of other factors, so do not immediately assume the worst.
If you are worried, seek professional information and help from your nearest clinic.
Sibongile Mkhombo, DA Women's Network, Gauteng East