4 Surprising Results of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Eminem, Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, Charlie Sheen, TI, Nicole Ritchie, Kid Cudi… These are just a few celebrities who are outspoken about their battles with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our own MaBrrr, Brenda Fassie, lost her life in an apparent overdose in 2004. It also seems common these days to hear about a local singer or TV star on the news being involved in a car accident under the influence of alcohol.
The most common drugs used locally include marijuana (dagga), cocaine, heroin, "Nyaope" (a mixture of marijuana and heroin) and tik (methamphetamine). And alcohol might be a legal substance once you’re over a certain age, but it can be as addictive as any shady illegal substance.
The SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) show that illegal drug use in the country is double that of the world norm, and the rate of use is rising. The Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre says that 75% of the people who come to them for help started using drugs in their teens.
Choma, I don’t tell you this to freak you out or to throw statistics at you, but the bottom line is: too many young people are getting caught up in drug and alcohol abuse in South Africa. It's just not worth experimenting and using drugs, it is highly addictive, destroys lives and negatively affects the people around you. Drug addiction is also permanent chomas, while there are treatment programmes out there, a recovering drug addict has to face their own struggles every day and relapse is very common.
Think you've heard all this before? Well, choma, it isn't just hallucinations, addiction and overdosing that you need to worry about – as if those weren’t bad enough. Drugs and alcohol have many serious consequences that I bet you haven't even considered:
1. Theft and crime
You start off small, smoking illegal substances with your friends at a party. What's the harm you think? Well, other than the immediate dangers to your health, you have to know that buying drugs keeps the gangsters in your neighbourhood in business.
Not only that, but a lot of addicts find themselves committing crime too. They report that as your need to keep using grows, and need to chase more intense highs consumes you, they started stealing from their friends and family, and in some cases selling sex for drug money and holding up local businesses for cash. It's an ugly future that you don’t want, choma.
2. With your health, goes your looks
Ok, choma, this might sound seriously vain, but nobody wants the skin and teeth of someone who abuses drugs and alcohol. There's a lot of medical reasons why, but the short version is that you can kiss your youthful good looks goodbye when you bring drugs into your life. Think acne, scarring, rashes, rotting brown teeth, bruising, skin lesions and infections, and more.
3. Death on our roads
I know you know, choma, that our lovely country has a serious problem with road safety. Death and horrific accidents are sadly an everyday occurrence on our roads. And drug and alcohol abuse is adding fuel to the fire. According to the Central Drug Authority, as many as 6000 people die on our roads in alcohol related accidents.
4. Brain damage
Even if your body survives the onslaught of alcohol and drug abuse, your young bright mind may not. You don't just act impaired while under the influence – stumbling, slurring your words, etc – drug and alcohol abuse can have long term effects on your brain. For example, alcohol has been linked to brain shrinkage, memory loss, your ability to process and retain information, among other things.
Engaging in drug addition especially with a partner can also result in events leading to having unprotected sex. Face it chomas, being drunk or taking drugs can leave you in a state where you are not 100% in control and condomising is the last thing on anyone's mind once things heat up. This leads to risky behaviour increasing your chances of contracting HIV and other STIs as well as getting pregnant.
Don't be afraid to ask for help Chomas, you don't have to deal with this alone, there is support and hope out there. If you think you have a problem or need help, talk to trained counsellors anonymously:
Narcotics Anonymous - 083 900 69 62
Alcoholics Anonymous - 0861 435 722
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