Zululand Observer - Weekender
Prescription meds abused by teens
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.’