Are you being pressured into taking drugs?

Peer pressure from friends can negatively influence the decisions you make. In some cases, you might feel a lot of pressure to fit in. Feeling this way can cause you to make decisions based on what you think your friends want you to do, even that’s not what you’d normally do, in hopes of fitting in or being noticed. Here’s how to avoid being pressured into using drugs with friends.

Know where you stand

Work out where you stand on issues like drugs and alcohol. Knowing your own mind makes it easier to stay true to yourself.

Prepare yourself

Think about how you’d like to respond when your friend offers you drugs or a drink, so you know what to say. Practice saying “no”- the more you do it, the easier it gets.

Choose friends wisely

Understand who’s offering you the drugs and why. Friends should understand if you say no and people you don’t know you very well may expect something in return. Surround yourself with people who respect your decisions.

Be firm

Be firm when telling your friend that you don’t want to drink or use drugs. If they try to persuade you, don’t feel like you have to change your mind.

Be yourself

Although your friends might not show it, they’ll respect you more if you’re assertive and clear about what you do and don’t want to do. You don’t need to compromise yourself to be liked. Healthy friendships will try their best to be supportive and not judge you based on your decisions.

Focus on your long term goals

Remind yourself of your goals and all you want to achieve in life. Using drugs or alcohol might derail you from where you want to get to. If the company you are keeping is not helping you reach your goals, you might want to change the people you surround yourself with,

If you continue to face peer pressure and you’re finding it difficult to deal with, talk to someone you trust. Don’t feel guilty if you’ve made a mistake or two. If you or someone you know is struggling from drug abuse You can get in touch with the following organisations:

Narcotics Anonymous on their helpline: 011 509 0031 / 083 900 6962.

NACOSA on 012 940 2829.

Remember Choma, you should never feel forced to use drugs just to please anyone or be liked. This can be hard to accept, but it helps to try.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657

How drug abuse is linked to human trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the very sad realities we live with. In order to prioritise your safety and that of the people you care about, it’s important to be clued up on all the different ways traffickers take advantage of their victims so that you can be on guard. Here’s how human trafficking and drug use are linked.

Effects of drug abuse

Among many other long term and short term effects, drug abuse can lead to addiction. Addiction can affect many aspects of your life, including your health, relationships and work or school. It’s common for people who abuse substances to also find themselves stealing money and items around the home in order to purchase their drug of choice. This is why it’s extremely important to drink responsibly, and avoid experimenting with drugs.

Drugs can be used as bait

A lot of the time, traffickers go for the most vulnerable individuals. People who are already on drugs are considered vulnerable because drugs can be used as bait in order to get access to them. For example, a trafficker may promise unlimited access to your drug of choice if you meet them at a specific private location.

Drugs are used to gain control

It’s common for traffickers to get their victims dependent on drugs in order to keep them from trying to escape. A lot of reports around human trafficking show that traffickers intimidate, drug, and abuse their victims into submission so that they can control and monitor them. While this is a very scary thing to think about, it’s important to be aware of it so that you don’t fall into any traps, like someone offering you drugs or any other items for free.

Staying safe

Human trafficking is a serious crime and if you suspect that someone is involved in it, make sure you report them immediately by calling 0800 222 777. It’s also important to prioritise your own safety by avoiding suspicious situations. For example, dodgy job ads that don’t provide a lot of information, or random people offering you things out of the blue.

Another way to stay safe is to make sure that you never leave your drink unattended in public situations and never accept drinks from strangers. If you are in a public gathering, drink responsibly and avoid getting too drunk or using any kind of drug.

If you or someone you know are dependent on drugs, remember help is available. You can contact Narcotics Anonymous or SANCA for assistance, and you can get in touch with me if you need advice or just an ear to listen.

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, especially now that tactics like false job adverts are used to lure people into being trafficked. If you are applying for jobs, do some research on the company and share the location of the interview with a friend or family member that you trust.

Human trafficking is a very scary reality that we need to be aware of and take the necessary precautions to make sure we stay safe and help our loved ones to do the same. While experimenting with drugs can feel like harmless fun, it can have some really serious consequences and put you at risk of being trafficked. Put your health and safety first, Choma. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured or convinced into trying drugs and seek help if you are struggling with a drug abuse problem.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Helping someone with an addiction

Helping a friend or relative who’s struggling with substance abuse can be extremely difficult. There’s no magic formula to get them to stop doing this, however there are certain steps you can take to intervene. Here’s more.

First intervention

The first intervention involves you making time to sit down and talk to your friend or relative who is struggling with substance abuse without including any of his/her other family or friends. Sometimes just sitting down and having a conversation is enough to motivate them to be open and reach out for help.

Family intervention

The second intervention, usually happens after the first intervention fails. The family intervention involves reaching out to their close family or friends without the friend or relative who is struggling with addiction. This step includes educating family members and friends about what addiction is and sharing ways to better support the friend or family member who is struggling.

Crisis intervention

The final steps happens when all steps above fail and if you feel like your friend or relative has become a danger to themselves and those around them. Crisis intervention involves reaching out to some of the following organisations on behalf of your friend/relative:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), they are open 24hrs and you can call them on 0861 435 722 or chat to them online here.

South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), you can call them on 011 892 3829, or send them a WhatsApp on 076 535 1701. They are available from Monday to Friday from 8am – 4pm.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA), you can call them 0861 00 6962.

Recovering from substance use addiction is a difficult process and while we may want to help our friend or relative, the truth is not everyone has the strength and ability right away. The road to recovery takes time so remember to be patient with your friend/relative and offer your support whenever you can.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Substance use and pregnancy – know the facts

Pregnancy is a sensitive time for both the expecting mother and developing child in the womb. Most pregnant women go to great lengths to ensure that their pregnancy goes well. This includes consulting a doctor, taking pregnancy vitamins and attending prenatal classes. The last thing an expecting mom wants to do, is compromise the health of her unborn baby. Taking any kind of substance during pregnancy puts the expectant mother and their child at risk. Here’s more.

Using over the counter medication

Medical practitioners advise pregnant women to consult with their doctor or gynaecologist about using prescription or over the counter medication. The reason behind this is that most studies don’t use pregnant women when testing out the medication, so there’s no telling what kind of effects the medication can have on your growing baby and you.

Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is discouraged by medical practitioners because it can lead to Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This is a condition that causes growth problems, brain damage, behavioural problems and developmental issues in babies.

Some mothers may convince you that they drank and their babies haven’t suffered, but the reality is, any amount of alcohol taken during pregnancy is harmful to you and your unborn baby. You may not see the issues during infancy, but they can show up when the child gets older.

Smoking

Smoking is bad for you as an adult because it compromises your respiratory system and weakens your immune system. Imagine the effect it could have on an unborn baby. The nicotine and tobacco in cigarettes and other products, can go through the womb and into the blood stream of your growing baby. The worst case scenario is that your baby may suffer from birth defects, you could deliver prematurely, or even miscarry.

Taking drugs

Similar to smoking, drugs have negative effects on adults. Using illegal drugs like cocaine, weed or nyaope during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage or infant death. If you do carry to term, your child is likely to suffer from developmental problems, constant health issues and experience educational problems later on. 

It’s important for you to take care of your health at all times, especially during pregnancy. If you’re struggling to quit any substance, talk to your medical practitioner so that they can assist you. You can also contact organisations such as SANCA and FAMSA for free counselling.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Is your relationship a danger to your future?

Relationships play a huge role in our lives. Your partner can either be a positive or negative influence on you, depending on their values. Ultimately, a healthy relationship needs to have a good impact on you and not interfere with your future goals. Here are a few signs that your relationship is not healthy for you or your future.

It enables substance abuse

If you and your partner’s idea of fun always includes getting drunk or high, then your relationship is not very healthy. When you and your partner enable each other to abuse substances, you are compromising each other’s future. Substances like alcohol and drugs have a lasting impact on your physical and mental health. They can also increase your chances of contracting STIs since you are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour when you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

If you and your partner both have a substance abuse problem, then it’s important to seek help individually and focus on dealing with your issues separately. You will also need to be careful of partners and friends who try to pressure you into taking drugs or drinking alcohol as this is a sign that they don’t care about your wellbeing or your future.

It makes you feel worthless

Does your partner belittle you or make you feel worthless? Having a partner who insults you, shuts you down or makes you feel like you don’t matter can really affect your self-esteem. This can start with little things like commenting on your appearance, comparing you to other people or just saying mean things to you.

Relationships are not supposed to strip you of your confidence or make you doubt yourself. It’s really important to notice the things your partner says and walk out of any relationship where you are not treated with love and respect.

Safe sex is not prioritised

A partner who cares about you will not refuse to use protection during sex.  Someone who cares about your future will always protect you and themselves from STIs and unwanted pregnancy by using a condom during sex and not having multiple sexual partners. They will be open to getting tested for STIs, including HIV and will not pressure you into having sex before you are ready.

A loving partner also doesn’t put pressure on you to use contraceptives like the pill or injection – they respect your right to make choices when it comes to your body.

There’s abuse

Abuse in a relationship doesn’t have to be physical, it can also be emotional, mental and sexual. That’s why it’s important to always look out for red flags – for example if your partner feels entitled to your time, threatens to harm you or is constantly jealous and controlling. Sexual abuse involves things like stealthing, rape and trying to coerce and manipulate you into having sex with them. You don’t owe your partner sex in a relationship, Choma, you are allowed to refuse (with or without a reason) and a partner who loves you won’t try to force you into doing it.

Remember, abuse is never your fault and you can get out of a relationship if it’s abusive. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and get help.

A healthy relationship will encourage you and your partner to bring out the best in each other and ensure that you both become the best versions of yourselves. Don’t be afraid to walk out of a relationship that is not healthy and may have a harmful impact on your future.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Common myths about drug use

There are a lot of misconceptions about alcohol and drug use. While social media and television shows may glamourize the use of these substances, there’s a side to alcohol and drug use that is misrepresented. Here are the myths vs the facts associated with substance abuse:

Myth:

I can take any drug and still be in control.

Fact:

Alcohol and drugs affect your nervous system. This means that they go straight to your brain and affect the way you think and make decisions. For instance, you may take part in activities that you later regret like engaging in risky sexual behaviour, violence or even committing a crime.

Myth:

Certain drugs like Marijuana (weed) or prescription medication are not addictive.

Fact:

Marijuana and prescription medication are addictive drugs, especially if used frequently. If you are always using Marijuana or abusing prescription medication, you can experience some serious mental health issues that can cause permanent damage.

Myth:

Addiction is not real. I can stop whenever I want.

Fact:

The truth is, most people start out using drugs occasionally, which is why they believe that they are in control of the amount they consume. However, with continued use over time, you lose this false sense of control and become dependent on the drug to enjoy yourself at parties or even to cope with difficult situations. This leads to drug abuse and addiction.

Myth:

Once you are addicted, there’s no hope for you.

Fact:

There’s always treatment available for people who are struggling with addiction and yes, you can recover.

Organised groups such as the South African National Council Association (SANCA) offer specialised education, prevention, treatment and aftercare services designed to improve your quality of life by helping to restore your sense confidence, self-control and worth in society. If you have decided you want to stop using substances and need help to stay clean, click here to access organisations that offer rehabilitation treatment.

The use of drugs may seem harmless at first, but often drugs have a way of taking over your life and leading to some serious mental and physical health issues. So, instead of holding on to these myths, educate yourself about the effects of drugs so that you can make the right choices and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

5 signs you need to quit drinking

While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink occasionally, it can be difficult to recognise when harmless fun becomes binge-drinking or even alcohol abuse. How can you tell when your alcohol intake is becoming dangerous? Here are 5 signs.

Your drinking has increased

Have you noticed that you are drinking more than you used to? Your body might be getting used to the alcohol intake, causing you to need larger amounts to start feeling tipsy or drunk. Having constant alcohol cravings and wanting to spend more time under the influence is the first sign that you may need to slow down.

Always trying to find excuses to drink

If you are always thinking about alcohol and trying to find an excuse to drink, it could signal a drinking problem. Alcohol dependence usually starts gradually, which is why it’s important to monitor and limit your drinking to avoid it.

Drinking to cope

Do you find yourself drinking to feel good or to cope with stress or anxiety? It’s important for us to find positive ways to deal with life’s daily stressors and negative emotions. This can be anything from exercise, talking to a friend, or listening to music. Positive coping techniques don’t endanger your health or cause bigger problems, which is exactly what drinking alcohol does.

Your loved ones are worried about your drinking

If your loved ones are starting to complain about your drinking, that could be a sign that you need to stop. This means that they may have noticed a concerning pattern in your drinking. Don’t ignore it or dismiss it, Choma. Usually the people who care about us are the first to notice when something is not good for us.

It affects your life

When drinking starts causing issues at school, work or in your relationships, then it’s a sign that you need to slow down or quit completely. If you find that your marks are dropping at school, you are often late for work engagements or have become aggressive towards loved ones because of alcohol, then you may have a problem and you can address it by seeking help. The AA is a good place to start, or you can send me a message to get advice on other ways of finding help.

It’s important for us to always look at our own behaviour in order to correct it. South Africa has a culture of binge drinking and alcohol and over the years we have seen the negative effects that this can have on individuals, families and communities. That’s why I encourage you to look at your own drinking habits and if you find that you can relate to one or more of the behaviours I have mentioned above, make a change. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone – use the resources I have provided.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

Is there a link between drug abuse and human trafficking?

Human trafficking is one of the very sad realities we live with. In order to prioritise your safety and that of the people you care about, it’s important to be clued up on all the different ways traffickers take advantage of their victims so that you can be on guard. Here’s how human trafficking and drug use are linked.

Effects of drug abuse

Among many other long term and short term effects, drug abuse can lead to addiction. Addiction can affect many aspects of your life, including your health, relationships and work or school. It’s common for people who abuse substances to also find themselves stealing money and items around the home in order to purchase their drug of choice. This is why it’s extremely important to drink responsibly, and avoid experimenting with drugs.

Drugs can be used as bait

A lot of the time, traffickers go for the most vulnerable individuals. People who are already on drugs are considered vulnerable because drugs can be used as bait in order to get access to them. For example, a trafficker may promise unlimited access to your drug of choice if you meet them at a specific private location.

Drugs are used to gain control

It’s common for traffickers to get their victims dependent on drugs in order to keep them from trying to escape. A lot of reports around human trafficking show that traffickers intimidate, drug, and abuse their victims into submission so that they can control and monitor them. While this is a very scary thing to think about, it’s important to be aware of it so that you don’t fall into any traps, like someone offering you drugs or any other items for free.

Staying safe

Human trafficking is a serious crime and if you suspect that someone is involved in it, make sure you report them immediately by calling 0800 222 777. It’s also important to prioritise your own safety by avoiding suspicious situations. For example, dodgy job ads that don’t provide a lot of information, or random people offering you things out of the blue.

Another way to stay safe is to make sure that you never leave your drink unattended in public situations and never accept drinks from strangers. If you are in a public gathering, drink responsibly and avoid getting too drunk or using any kind of drug.

If you or someone you know are dependent on drugs, remember help is available. You can contact Narcotics Anonymous or SANCA for assistance, and you can get in touch with me if you need advice or just an ear to listen.

Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, especially now that tactics like false job adverts are used to lure people into being trafficked. If you are applying for jobs, do some research on the company and share the location of the interview with a friend or family member that you trust.

Human trafficking is a very scary reality that we need to be aware of and take the necessary precautions to make sure we stay safe and help our loved ones to do the same. While experimenting with drugs can feel like harmless fun, it can have some really serious consequences and put you at risk of being trafficked. Put your health and safety first, Choma. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured or convinced into trying drugs and seek help if you are struggling with a drug abuse problem.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).

5 modern-day youth struggles

While we will always remember the struggles and courage shown by youth in the past, the issues faced by youth right now are a lot different. What are some of our modern-day challenges and how can we overcome them? Read on to find out.

Unemployment

South Africa has one of the highest rates of unemployment in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has not made it easier young people to find work. I know how difficult it is for anyone who is looking for employment right now, and have provided some resources to help your search and help you deal with unemployment stress and anxiety.

Registering on websites like Harambee can help you on your job search and you can also register your CV on the Department of Labour’s employment services website for work and learning opportunities. Remember that you are not alone in this, and you can always reach out to me if you need to talk.

Substance abuse

There are a lot of reasons why people turn to drugs and/or alcohol. While for some it’s just a way to unwind, a lot of people use substances to cope with stress. It’s important that we not only make people aware of issues with drugs and alcohol, but also make healthier decisions in our own lives.

Substance abuse can include the overuse of alcohol, cigarettes, lean (codeine), weed (marijuana) and any other substance that can be harmful to your health. If you need help with an addiction, you can contact SANCA for help.

Cyber bullying

Social media bullying (cyberbullying) is the use of social media platforms to pick on or shame someone. This can be done by sending someone abusive messages online, exposing personal information like embarrassing videos or photos, posting or supporting revenge porn, and teasing or attacking someone directly or indirectly on social media. This can do a lot of damage to the person’s mental health and reputation, which is why it’s important to be careful about what we post, share, and view on our social media platforms.

Mental illness

Mental illness is still misunderstood in our communities and a lot of people are afraid to get help because of the stigma attached to it. It’s our responsibility to educate ourselves and our loved ones about mental health, so that we can get help if we need it and encourage others to do the same.

Gender-based violence

Gender-based violence, rape and femicide are just a few issues that mostly affect women and people belonging to the LBGTQ community. While there have been lots of initiatives to bring awareness and education about these issues, they still continue to be a problem. Remember that we can still use our voices to have meaningful conversations about this and make our country safer for vulnerable groups.

It can be really scary to live in a world where we have to deal with all these issues, but it’s important to also look at the progress we have made and highlight people who are dedicating their lives to making a difference. There is hope and help for any issue you may be facing so don’t be afraid talk to me about anything.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657.

Dealing with a parent who abuses substances

Dealing with a parent who abuses substances

Living with a parent who abuses substances is not easy to deal with, especially during this period of lockdown. How can you deal with the situation and maintain your wellbeing? Here’s help.

It’s not your fault

When you have experienced something for a long time and you are trying to make sense of it, it’s easy to think that it may be your fault. However, your parent’s substance abuse issue is not your fault. People deal with their own struggles differently, and unfortunately, sometimes this behaviour is not healthy or fair. While it may be difficult to make peace with this, it’s important to remember that you are not to blame and your feelings of anger and hurt about the situation are valid.

Find support

I know that admitting your parent has a substance problem can be difficult since you may be afraid of what people might say. This is normal, Choma. However, talking to someone will help you realise that you are not alone. There are other people with family members and/or parents who have the same issues and talking about it may give you comfort. Find someone you trust, like a counsellor, or an online support group on a platform like Al-Anon, which offers help to addicts and their families. You can also speak to me about your issue and I will give you advice and tips to help you.

Build positive habits

You can’t control what your parent does, but you can choose to make healthier decisions for yourself. Choose to build positive habits and develop healthy ways of dealing with problems. Learn to express your emotions, rather than bottling everything up, think about the long-term consequences of actions instead of doing what feels right in the moment, and prioritise your mental health and wellbeing above everything.

Get help

Parents with substance abuse problems can be unpredictable. This is frustrating and difficult to deal with, which is why you need to make sure that you get help for yourself and them (if they are willing). Organisations like SADAG and SANCA are there to help you deal with the issue and take care of your mental health. However, if the situation threatens your safety, then it’s important to make sure you have these emergency numbers on hand:

Childline: 0800 055 555
SAPS emergency number: 10111
Child Emergency line: 081123 321

Substance abuse can take a big toll on the entire family, especially if a parent is struggling with it. Just remember that if you are in this situation then help is available for you and your parent, Choma and you don’t have to go through any of this alone.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).