Zululand Observer - Weekender

Prescripti­on meds abused by teens

- Conelia Harry

REPORTS of high school pupils taking cocktails of pills, cough mixture and cold drink to get a quick high, have highlighte­d the disturbing trend of young children experiment­ing with over-the-counter prescripti­on medication as a means to ‘do drugs’.

Richards Bay SAPS spokespers­on, Captain Debbie Ferreira, said schools are experienci­ng a serious challenge of youngsters abusing medication, which is fast becoming drugs of choice among schoolchil­dren.

Ferreira said while the exact number of incidents cannot be confirmed and while it is not illegal to have over-the-counter prescripti­on medication, drug abuse is not just about street drugs, as some medication can be addictive and dangerous if used in the wrong way.

‘Tablets such as Xanax and opioid-based cough mixtures which contain codeine, if overused, can lead to physical dependence and addiction.

‘Prescripti­on drugs should not be shared and they are only meant for the person to whom the prescripti­on has been issued.

‘We encourage all parents, guardians and community members to keep an eye out for signs of substance abuse, such as behaviour changes or missing medicine.

‘Many children assume that common household drugs or prescripti­on medicines are safer than street drugs because they are legal, but this is not true,’ said Ferreira.

SANCA Zululand Director Shireen Sahadev confirmed there is a huge problem.

‘While the number of young patients seeking help is low, we know there is a growing problem in our communitie­s and schools.

‘When youngsters abuse medication, it is noticeable in their interactio­ns, delayed responses and relaxed manner.

‘These concoction­s cause children to lose focus, concentrat­ion and interest in their schoolwork, hobbies or other interests.

‘Their school years are crucial for their developmen­t and they should not sabotage their future by engaging in drug use.

‘We understand there is peer pressure but youngsters must have a positive self image and strive to do their best and look at achieving their future goals.

‘As these medicines are easily accessible and cost effective compared to street drugs, parents and community members must constantly engage with their children and inform them of the dangers.

‘Parents must not confuse normal adolescent behaviour with that of drug abuse and should keep communicat­ion channels open at all times to discuss healthy alternativ­es, interests and hobbies or, in the event that a child wants to disclose their problems, seek help or advice.’

 ??  ?? Police often conduct drug and weapon raids at Richards Bay schools
Police often conduct drug and weapon raids at Richards Bay schools

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