By: Naledi Mokopakgosi

SUBSTANCE ABUSE SEMINAR &  FIRST THINGS FIRST PROGRAM: TSHWANE UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, DIRECTORATE OF HEALTH AND WELLNESS

The IKAMVAYOUTH Mamelodi tutors attended a Substance Abuse Seminar held at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on 20th August, organized by the Directorate of Health and Wellness, as means to open up a panel to discuss this issues which most commonly affects young people. The Seminar was attended by more than 200 students and various organizations. It began at around 10:00 whereby the attendees were first treated to breakfast, the guests were formally welcomed by the event organizers.  The key reasons for the substance abuse seminar include the following:

  • To define in detail what substance abuse is
  • To engage and comprehend about the punishments for various uses of illegal drugs
  • To get in detail the symptoms of substance abuse
  • To address the causes leading to substance abuse
  • To formulate solutions to gunner the issue, especially amongst youth, those in academics
  • To give information on how and where to receive help for the issue

‘’I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so badly indulge, it has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason, it has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom” Edgar Allan one of the keynote speakers.

Summary of the key information gleaned from the Seminar

Substance abuse, also referred to as drug abuse, is a patterned utilization of drugs in which the user consumes the substance in large quantities, or with methods that may be harmful to them or those around them. Some of the commonly abused substances / drugs are; heroin, cocaine, crack, alcohol, hallucinogens, and marijuana, and they respectively have their various punishment methodologies by law according to whether you are a user or distributor (sellers). Young people are the common victims of substance abuse. In order to help the sick we first must go back in time and recover their medical history, and begin to try and thoroughly fathom what is causing the chaos / dilemma, and this too must be applied to the subject matter in hand, before we begin to lambaste, criticize, or even attempt to help those that are victims of this issue we need to first find the roots of the matter, the causes behind why one is abusing drugs.

There are certain life circumstances more especially in young people, or young users which are the leading factors of substance abuse. Drug abuse is often said to be related to peer pressure, but it is important to note one fundamental factor which is prominent in drug abuse, far more brutal than peer pressure, the fact that drugs are utilized to serve as an escape from the world of reality, trying to escape from the reality of an abusive parent, an abusive spouse, financial burdens, the perceived world of lack of success, an unstable household and many more. Of scientific evidence that probably leads to drug abuse there is so far insufficient information to raise or make a concrete case that neuroscience, or genetics somehow have a role to play.

Our surroundings have a huge impact on the kinds of people we become, it influences our codes of conduct, and what we perceive as a prosperous or the ideal life, media hence being one of the platforms in which we acquire most of our information has too added fuel to the subject matter, young people often model what they see on TV, from their role models, and quite often our media promotes the use of drugs both directly and indirectly, be it through music and or through movies / TV Series. So, media has been spotted as one of the factors contributing to this social ill.

In order to tackle the issue of drug abuse we thus need to contemplate and thoroughly comprehend the above mentioned causes and those not mentioned, the leading indicators leading to substance abuse. There are various organizations that have a mandate of helping those that are going through the challenge of substance abuse.

Amongst some of the speakers we had:

  • Tshwane Metropolitan: who supplied information on the various forms of illegal drugs which are commonly used in society; the types of punishment that is associated with each respective form of illegal drug, and the judicial process which partakes when one is found using drugs, in possession, or selling them. Information and examples were given on some of the cases the metropolitans have had to deal with or are dealing with. They further stretched why engaging in drugs is dangerous and often joins with other forms of crimes.
  • Howard Zondo (motivational speaker and IKAMVAYOUTH Grade 12 Learner): Howard being a grade 12 learner and an author gave a talk about drug abuse from a viewpoint of not only of a learner, not only a young person, but that of a leader in society. He incorporated the effects of drug abuse to a variety of elements in our society, more especially in poor communities, such being the issue of unemployment, lack of knowledge pertaining the subject matter, and he further communicated to the students that, as academics they have a pivotal role in society in curbing the issue of drug abuse amongst the many social ills that society is faced with, that they need to take a leadership role in making our communities a desirable place to reside in.

Some of the key questions asked during the Question and Answers session:

  • What are the common symptoms of drug abuse?
  • Do women and men have the same alcohol tolerance?
  • How do we de-associate fun with alcohol?
  • How do certain cultural practices lead to drug abuse amongst youth?
  • Which organizations help those with drug abuse problems?
  • How much alcohol consumption is allowable for someone to drive after drinking?

A great deal of knowledge was spread amongst the attendees pertaining to the issue of drug abuse, amongst the many things that stood out from the event was the talk and motivation bestowed to the attendees by Howard Zondo, he left the crowd amused as to what it means to walk the walk and talk the talk, to be a leader, a change in perception resulted from the event for most of the attendees. A great deal of social norms and perceptions were brought to demise by the seminar.