LEPHALALE — The principal of Hoërskool Ellisras, Adriaan Joubert, together with the manager of a rehabilitation centre about 70 km outside Lephalale, Pastor Karl Leonard, held a substance abuse information session at the school on Tuesday 12 March. Two ex-drug addicts, Riaan and Elton, also shared their stories with the learners.
Me HP Mabotja, Lephalale Circuit Manager for Education, expressed her gratitude towards the school and this initiative, saying this is the kind of awareness that should not only happen once.
“Schools are supposed to be centres of safety, but recently we are confronted with learners using drugs, killing people and bullying. This is disturbing.
“I ask myself the question – what makes learners do things like these. Indulging in substance abuse – I am not only talking about boys, I’m also talking about girls. The effect that this can have on relationships – your high school years are supposed to be one of the most memorable events in your lifetime. You have to enjoy life in high school – that is where you discover yourself.
“I hope the words of these people that are going to talk to you will touch the hearts of many learners. What does the future hold for children? You want to become something in life. I ask myself when I see young people do the wrong things, I wonder who their role models are. As an individual there comes a time in your life to decide; if your parents don’t play an important role, talk to someone.
“If you start the path with drugs you will start with small crimes which become big crimes and it will ruin your life. Every time when you want to get a job they will ask for your criminal record. Be aware when you make choices. Move away from people that are not a good influence on you. Anyone of you that intends to do bad – I hope that from what you are going to listen to and see today, it will change your heart so that you will be able to focus on your studies. Children have to dream of what they can become, about their futures,” she said in her opening remarks. Joubert welcomed the learners (the boys and girls were addressed in two different sessions) and said that the learners are the guests today and that they should listen carefully to what the experts have to say.
Pastor Karl addressed the learners about the different kinds of drug abuse that he gets to deal with in the centre. He emphasized that substance abuse can become a part of anyone’s life, even if you grow up in a loving home with parents who care about you. He urged the learners not to give in if someone wants to introduce you to drugs. Not even once. He said that in many cases substance abuse starts with alcohol abuse. It affects your judgment and then it is easier to say yes to another substance. He discussed the effects on the human body of various drugs such as Mandrax, Ecstasy, CAT, Cocaine/Crack Cocaine, Crystal Meth (also known as TIK), Heroin, Krokodil and Flakka among others.
He pointed out the dangers of marijuana (dagga or weed) and that although that it’s been legalised by the government for private use recently, it can still have a very bad effect on an individual. “I get people in the centre who smoked one dagga joint and they went into psychosis. Dagga may have a short-term effect on one person but it may trigger severe depression and psychological disorders in another person. Dagga is also seen as a gateway drug to other dangerous substances,” Leonard said.
He explained that by using heroin, the part of the human brain that produces dopamine and serotonin, is weakened, so in order for your brain to produce the “feel good hormones” again, you need to take heroin again. “Nyaope is a drug that is widely used, and one of the main ingredients in Nyaope is heroin,” he said.
By showing very graphic visuals of the behaviour of addicts, the learners were shocked by what they’ve seen.
He also touched the possibility of prostitution and human trafficking resulting from drug abuse.
This initiative is planned to engage with other schools in the area soon.