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Be aware, be safe - Let’s support a drug free society

The 2nd Biennial Summit, which was held in Durban from 13 to 15 October, served as a platform to share information and ideas about the problem of substance abuse.

This included sharing ideas on how to communicate the message of zero tolerance to drug trafficking. It also highlighted the fact that substance abuse interventions are aimed at saving lives, preserving families and building stronger communities.

Schools and youth

A number of studies show that South Africa is experiencing a sharp increase in young people abusing substances like drugs and alcohol. Many of the patients admitted to rehabilitation and treatment centres for substance abuse are children as young as eight to 10 years old.

Peer pressure

Drug and alcohol abuse at a young age is often the result of peer pressure, which starts at school.

In addition, during the school holidays, children are often at home alone because their parents have to work. Children, especially
teenagers, get bored and safestart hanging around with the wrong group of people. They are then pressurised into trying new drugs, smoking or drinking alcohol, because they want to fit in.

Criminal activities

Once children start using substances, they often become addicted.
To feed their addictions they become involved in criminal activities as they try to get money to buy drugs. This can become a continuous cycle of conflict with the law.

As part of its integrated approach towards promoting a drug free society, the Biennial Summit also looked at ways to target schools and the youth.