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 Drugs and Addiction: A Sinister threat
By Dr. Anwar Jeewa
Why Do People Take Drugs
Why Do People Continue To Take Drugs
What Type Of People Become Addicts
What Role Should Parents Play In These Times
Ways To Prevent Drug Abuse
If Your Child Is Abusing Drugs How Must One React
When Your Child Refuses To Co-Operate
How Do Parents Feel When Their Child Is Abusing Drugs
What Message Do You Have To young People?
Have The Courage To Change
Case Histories

 Why Do People Take Drugs
Experimentation and Curiosity
The desire to experiment is usually the prime reason why young people start using drugs. In most cases youngsters are offered drugs, usually dagga, by friends. Curious at the prospect of experiencing a new sensation, he or she agrees to give it a try. They assure themselves that it is the "in" thing to do and feel reassured in the knowledge that everyone else in his peer group is doing it too. Once taken they believe that they can control their drug intake and fall prey to the "it can't happen to me" syndrome. Whet they don't realise is that this habit can easily develop into a full-blown addiction which will wreck their lives.

Peer Group Pressure
Children of all ages are placed under enormous pressure to conform to what others in the same age group are doing. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to peer group pressure. They want to be respected and admired by their contemporaries, and dread being "left out" by the group. They want to be popular, strong and daring; to a teenager, it's vital to be thought of as "cool", not "chicken" or "straight" or "square". The need to conform to the norms and values of the peer group applies as much to drugs as to wearing fashionable clothes or a particular hair style. Many youngsters are thrown into turmoil when offered drugs by friends or pressurised into trying them by their peers; while they are apprehensive about the drugs, they nevertheless desperately want to remain part of the group. Given a choice between being rejected by the group and taking drugs, many teenagers will unhesitatingly choose the latter. This is why illicit drug use has been described as a kind of "communicable disease" that spreads from one user to another. Some youngsters are able to cope with casual experimentation, but a certain percentage become dependent on their drugs of abuse.

Parents should not underestimate the power of peer group pressure. It is vital that you prepare your children, for this eventuality by building up their confidence and self - esteem and teaching them that it is alright to say "NO!"

Many young people have told me that they started taking drugs because they were "bored". This is a situation that, ideally, should never be allowed to develop. Teenagers who lack a sense of purpose, or are disgruntled, isolated or unmotivated, are particularly vulnerable to drugs, and parents and teachers should make every effort to stimulate their interests.

Young people may start using drugs or alcohol as a way of rebelling against parents, teachers and the establishment, knowing as they do, that most adults do not approve of drug use among children. Many drug users, young and old, tend to take a cynical view of the "straight" world and are much given to denying the integrity of people who do not approve of drugs. In some cases, the use of drugs will be a cry for help or a desire to be noticed.

Poor Self - Esteem
Some youngsters believe that drugs make them feel confident and important, especially in awkward social situations. Young people who have low self-esteem and who feel a profound sense of inadequacy are very vulnerable to drugs: apart from providing the youngsters with instant confidence and optimism, the drugs also offer them a temporary escape from their problems.

Absent Father Syndrome
This simply means that a family lives under one roof but there exists very little or no communication between the household members. Children, in particular are very sensitive in such circumstances. Under such apparent conditions they want "out". At home they feel like a bird caged up, whilst outside their domain, they feel like a fish in the ocean. In the company of friends he is offered a stick of dagga. Should he refuse, he is called a "square" or a "chicken". To avoid being labelled as such he will take a puff and that is where your child has taken the first puff to becoming a potential drug addict.

 Why Do People Continue To Take Drugs
At first, drugs may give youngsters a feeling of self-confidence and security. They may also seem to make problems disappear temporarily, at least. However, the drug user soon finds himself trapped in a vicious circle. He takes drugs because he enjoys experiencing the effects; when the effects wear off, he takes them again. After a while, he finds that he has to take the drugs in order to stave off the unpleasant feelings that occur when he is not "stoned". The point of dependence is reached when he needs the drug to live, and begins to live for the drug.
There are a number of reasons why people continue to take drugs. The factors which we will now discuss could all contribute towards a youngsterís habitual abuse of drugs. They may well be used by the child as excuses for his unacceptable behaviour.
Poor Examples
Every day, youngsters see older people - and sometimes their own parents - smoking, drinking and taking pills indiscriminately. They may hear expressions such as: "I had too much to drink, but I felt so happy" or "Iíve got a terrible hangover but I had such a great time at the party that I figure itís worth it" or "I drank my chums under the table". Some fathers make their sons feel that itís "macho" to be able to drink a lot.

They are also regularly bombarded with glamorous advertisements for alcohol and cigarettes in magazines, in newspapers and on television. Can children be blamed for thinking that the alleviation of pain or heartache is just a pill away? Can we condemn them for believing that, in order to have a good time, one must be drunk or "stoned"? A parent who regularly drinks or smokes too much is sending a powerful message to his children and cannot very well expect them to resist these temptations if he cannot do so himself.

Pressure To Succeed
In todayís world, children are under enormous pressure to succeed, whether it be on the sports field, in the classroom or in their future career. Parents sometimes expect too much from their offspring and the youngsters begin to feel that they cannot live up to these unrealistic expectations. Research has indicated that the majority of people who are dependent on drugs have a very low opinion of themselves and their abilities. For a child who is feeling pressurized and inadequate, drugs offer instant reassurance and quick gratification.

"Addictive" personalities
People react to drugs in different ways, it is thought that a person who experiences a pleasurable "high" is more likely to become hooked on the drug than someone whose reaction is unpleasant. Not everyone who experiments with drugs will become an addict, but unfortunately there is no way of predicting who will become dependent on drugs. Certain people try drugs once or twice and then never take them again; others carry on taking them until the point of dependence is reached. Some experts believe that there are people with "addictive" personalities (also known as "dependence-prone" personalities) who have an inherent tendency to become compulsively dependent on particular habits.

Another complicating factor is that many young people believe, "it canít happen to me" and think that they can carry on abusing drugs without becoming addicted. however, there is no such thing as an "immune personality": again, it is impossible to predict how drugs will affect a person. Researchers believe that there may be a genetic factor that makes some people vulnerable to alcoholism.

Family dynamics
Children who have problems at home may try to find security in drugs. Although there is no evidence to suggest that youngsters from broken or unhappy homes are more likely to take drugs than those from stable homes, it is nevertheless true that a child who feels insecure, threatened or troubled is very vulnerable to outside influences. There may be a history of substance abuse in the family, or an unhappy marriage, or even abuse by one or both parents. Rape and incest, for example, are traumatic experiences that can have long-term effects on a childís personality.

Drugs used as medication
People who are prescribed medication to cope with pain or psychiatric disorders can quite easily become addicted to the drugs. A person who suffers from chronic pain or from depression may continue to take the drugs for longer periods than recommended, this could take place with the knowledge and consent of the prescribing doctor.

Drugs are sometimes used as an escape from reality and responsibility. Young people who cannot cope with the demands of life may turn to drugs, or "drown" their sorrows in alcohol. Most of us cope with anxiety by gradually trying to eliminate the cause of it, but someone who is dependent on drugs feels that he can rely only on drugs because they make him feel better instantly. Drugs sometimes make the user believe that his problems have vanished: while under the spell of the drug, nothing seems real or important. However, drugs cannot be the solution to a personís problems. They may offer a temporary escape from a troubled reality, but ultimately will become the worst problem of all.

 What Type Of People Become Addicts
One of the most important things that I have learned is that there is no such thing as a "typical" drug user or addict. The problem of drug addiction is not confined to any one social class or race group. A drug addict can be rich or poor, male or female, educated or uneducated, black or white, young or old. Drug dependence cannot be ascribed to problems at work, or to an unhappy childhood or to being an only child, or to being rich, or poor or unemployed. It can happen to absolutely anyone. The only thing that all addicts have in common is that their lives are controlled by drugs and that their minds are seized by their overwhelming desire for drugs.

 What Role Should Parents Play In These Times
As parents we have a most important role to play. We are the people who initially, at least have the strongest influence on our children. We feel a sense of obligation to turn them into responsible adults and, because we love them, try to do everything in our power to ensure their safety and happiness. However, it isnít enough just to love your children. Love alone will not protect them from drugs and drug addiction. That is why the solving of the drug problem begins with us, the parents.

However, parents are only human. It is perfectly natural for us to have fears and doubts about our ability as parents. Every single one of us has wondered at some stage whether we are doing the right things for our children. Many parents feel ill-equipped and inadequate when it comes to dealing with the complex issues that concern teenagers of today - sex, alcohol and drugs, to name but a few. Many parents have no inkling of the conflicts that beset young people; some do not understand the enormous pressure under which their children are placed, not only by their peers, but also by society. (Even everyday matters such as parties, music, fashion, clubs, money, television and dating often become the cause of bitter dissension within the home).

When your children enter their teens, they will start needing, no, demanding, greater independence. They will want to spend more time with their friends and less time with you. They will ask their friends for advice rather than turn to you. They will become more secretive and gradually exclude you from their private thoughts. This is a time when they are constantly testing themselves and setting themselves new challenges. It is also a difficult time for many teenagers; they are emotionally volatile and do not yet have the maturity or wisdom to cope with the adolescent turmoil they are experiencing. If your teenage children appear to drift away from you during the difficult years of their adolescence, do not feel hurt and rejected. Remember that in spite of their apparent rejection of you they still need to know that you understand the changes that are taking place in their lives. They also need to be certain of your love and know that they can always count on your support.

It is your responsibility, as parents, to be aware of the pressures and influences to which your children are subjected. I firmly believe that parents cannot afford to sit back and expect teachers, professionals, the police force or the government to educate their children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse. Although schools and the state can certainly play a valuable role in preventing drug abuse, ultimately it is up to the parents to teach their children how to resist the temptation to try drugs. Every concerned parent should:
Become knowledgeable about the kind of drugs that are commonly abused.
Be able to identify the symptoms of drug dependence.
Find out why children experiment with drugs.
Know how to prevent drug abuse.
Know how to cope with a child who is abusing drugs.
Be aware of what drug abuse can do to a family.
Find out where to go for help.

 Ways To Prevent Drug Abuse
There are many ways in which parents can help to combat drug abuse. I believe that one of the most important steps is to foster a feeling of trust and understanding within the family. Communication is the most important factor of all. Try to create an atmosphere in which your children will be able to confide in you no matter how much trouble they may be in, or how bad their problems may seem.

Here are some other strategies for ensuring that your children realise the implications of drug abuse:
Be open about the subject of drugs at home. Ensure that the drug situation is discussed by the entire family as easily as other dinner-time subjects are. By stripping drugs of their mystique, you may be able to prevent your children from experimenting out of pure curiosity.
Be aware, be alert and be knowledgeable about drugs. Familiarize yourself with all aspects of drug abuse by reading the available literature, and put your knowledge to good use.
Encourage your children to join in the fight against drug abuse. They are more likely to resist drugs if they are aware of the issues involved.
Watch your own drinking and drugging habits. Set a good example by using all drugs-alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and over-the-counter medications - responsibly and in moderation.
Encourage a full religious life. Having a strong religious belief creates the sort of atmosphere that discourages drug abuse.
Teach your children to find the courage to say "NO!". Tell them that they should not be afraid to refuse an offer of drugs. Warn them that they may be ridiculed or rejected by their peers for this refusal and give them advice on how to cope with this situation.
Be understanding. Realise that your children will probably be confronted with drugs at some stage during their teens. Your support and sympathy will help them withstand inevitable peer group pressures. Encourage them to tell you about their experiences, and show them how proud you are of them when they take a stand.
Nurture confidence and self-esteem in your children. Youngsters who have a healthy self image are less likely to turn to drugs than those who feel insecure and inadequate. Praise your children freely; if there is a need to chastise them, criticise the action rather than the individual.
If you suspect that there are potentially harmful tensions and negative undercurrents in your family, donít ignore them in the hope that they will vanish in time. Consult a caring general practitioner, a psychologist, a social worker or a family counsellor.
Help your child to develop strong values by setting your own good example.
Set rules for your children and outline family policies. Let them know what the consequences of breaking these rules are so that they know where the lines are drawn. Once the rules have been established, enforce them.

 If Your Child Is Abusing Drugs, How Must One React
It is important that parents know how to react when confronted with the unpleasant fact that their child is abusing drugs. It is very easy to overreact and to make the situation even worse by flying into a rage. My experience with drug addicts has taught me that most youngsters do not respond favourably to this kind of behaviour and that in many cases it only serves to deepen their feelings of guilt.

How NOT To React
Do not panic.Do not overreact. Do not threaten your child. Do not nag. Do not offer bribes. Do not accuse without justification. Do not become hysterical, and do not become antagonistic. Do not discuss the issue with your child while you are very angry and in danger of losing your temper. Wait until you have calmed down and can discuss it rationally.

I know that it is extremely difficult to remain calm under such circumstances, but becoming neurotic and over-protective may result in further loss of control and the situation will only deteriorate.

Do not ask the youngster to promise not to take drugs. A drug abuser who has been caught out by her parents is likely to be in a state of shock and is not capable of making a firm commitment. Do not expect an instant cure for your child. It may take weeks, even months, to undo the harm that drugs have caused.

How Best To React
The worst thing that a parent can do is to ignore the problem amid avoid confrontation. Addiction is a treatable illness amid you can help your child to recover. However, there is no quick-fix solution. Helping an addict get well is a demanding, on going process that requires strength, determination, patience and love.

Stand Together
It is essential that both parents stand together. This is no time for blame, condemnation or acrimony. If you discover that your child is abusing drugs, discuss the problem with your spouse before confronting the youngster. Together decide how you are going to deal with it, and then abide by your decisions. Both parents must agree on how they are going to act towards their child. A situation where one parent condemns the child and the other one protects her is very unhealthy and must not be allowed to develop under any circumstances.

Gather Your Evidence
The next step is to make a list of all the aspects of your child's behaviour that are causing you worry. The following questions may help you to isolate areas of concern:
Is he / she staying out late and ignoring your curfews?
Do you suspect him / her of stealing money or objects from you and from other members of the family?
Is he / she abusive, aggressive or hostile towards you?
Does he / she threaten you?
Does he I she stay in bed all day?
Does he / she miss meals?
Is his / her appearance changing?
Does he / she keep losing her clothes and other possessions?
Is he / she very untidy, unwashed and inconsiderate?
Does he / she bring undesirable people home?
Does he / she argue constantly with her brothers and sisters?
Does he / she argue with you and then accuse you of nagging?
Does he / she destroy property?
Does he I she become violent towards you or others and seem to lose control?
Does he / she isolate herself and refuse to take part in family activities?
Does he / she ever come home drunk or "stoned"?
Is he / she forever losing report cards, complaining about her teachers, "bunking" school and failing? Does he / she blame all of this on her teachers or "boredom", or make any other excuse he / she can think of?
Does he / she get into trouble for speeding, fighting, shoplifting, housebreaking, possession of drugs, or dealing in drugs? Does he I she constantly make excuses, claiming "itís not my fault", or "they werenít my drugs", or "I was carrying them for someone else"?
In the case of a person who has left school or university, is he / she frequently getting fired, changing his I her job, not turning up for interviews or claiming to have lost her pay cheque?

Confront Your Child
Confront your child with this list and calmly discuss the situation with him / her. Let him / her know exactly how you feel and be as open and honest as possible. Donít let fear or anger undermine your purpose: too many parents are afraid of their children and are terrified of confronting them. It is vital to speak your mind firmly but sympathetically.
Tell your child why you are concerned. Explain the changes you have noticed, but do so gently and fairly. Mutual respect should be safeguarded at a time like this. Let him I her know that you love him / her and that is why you cannot allow him / her to destroy his/ her life.

Do not criticise him / her, call him / her names, threaten him / her or hurl accusation at him / her. A hostile, angry attitude on your part will only give rise to bitterness and may even aggravate the problem. There are several responses you can expect:
Your child may admit to using drugs. This is a positive step and you should thank him / her for his / her honesty.
Your child may deny using drugs. If this is the case, let him / her know that you are genuinely concerned and that he / she can safely confide in you. Tell him / her that you still love him I her but that you hate what he / she is doing to himself / herself. Explain the consequences of his / her behaviour, pointing out that he / she is risking not only his / her own health and happiness but also that of the people around him / her. lmpress upon your child that drugs are illegal and that there is a possibility of his / her being arrested and having a criminal record for life.
Do not be afraid of silences. Wait for your child to talk to you, even if it takes hours. Donít walk out in anger or exasperation. If your child persists in denying that he / she is using drugs, tell him / her firmly that you expect to see a dramatic improvement in his / her behaviour and that you will talk again in a few dayís time. It may take many talks before your child decides to open up to you. If your child still refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem, firmer steps will need to be taken.
Your child may tell you that you have no right to interfere. He / She may argue that you donít understand drugs because you havenít tried them yourself. In this case, explain to him / her that the fact that you have not tried drugs does not mean that you are ignorant of their effects. What is relevant is not what he / she feels, but what the drugs are doing to him / her. Let him / her know that his / her behaviour is also adversely affecting the whole family.
He / She may also tell you that you have no right to tell him / her what to do because it is "his / her life" and "his / her body". Inform him / her that you realise it is his / her body but that the choices he / she is making (that is, to take drugs) are not rationally based and that he / she will regret them later. As his / her parent, you have the legal right to make decisions about his / her welfare.

Formulate A Plan Of Action
Once your child has admitted to the problem, you will need to obtain expert advice on how to go about helping him / her. Your family doctor may be a good person with whom to discuss the situation, provided, of course, that he / she understands the nature of addiction. If your doctor is unable to help, persuade your child to accompany you to the nearest branch of SANCA, or to a drug counselling centre or clinic.
If your child refuses to come with you, use your authority as a parent and insist upon it. Donít be afraid to set rules and to ensure that your children realise the consequences of breaking them. It is essential for parents to take a firm stand when it comes to coping with drug abuse: all too often, adolescents are merely testing the water to see how far they can push their parents before they are issued with a stern "NO!". If your child agrees to accompany you to a counsellor or doctor and to take steps to stop using drugs, part of the battle is already over.

Be Honest
It is vital to be honest with yourself and with your children. Some parents are afraid of their children and fear "straight talk" because they think that this may make their children love them less. This is not true. In fact, the children will probably respect you more and appreciate your honest approach.

 When Your Child Refuses To Co-Operate
If, in spite of all your efforts, your child persists in denying that he has a drug problem and will not agree to undergo counselling, tougher measures will need to be taken. The first step is to make life more difficult for your child: in other words, you are going to have to stop "covering" for your child. Drug abusers are often supported by members of their family, and this support takes many different forms: it may be free board and lodging, extra money, helping them pay off debts, getting them out of trouble or even lying and making excuses for them. These supportive acts are known as "enabling" factors. In other words, by giving a drug-abusing child money, or goods that he can exchange for money, the parent may actually be enabling him to carry on abusing drugs.

Using Parent Power
It is a well-known fact that an alcoholic or drug addict may have to hit rock bottom, or reach a moment of truth, before realising that he has a problem. In other words, life on drugs has to become extremely unpleasant before he is likely to confront the reality of his situation and take personal responsibility for his life.

A drug addict or alcoholic cannot be rehabilitated unless he, himself really wants to. Parents may have to engineer a crisis - such as withholding privileges - in order to make him understand that they are no longer prepared to put up with his unacceptable behaviour.
It is very important for parents of drug addicts to understand that kindness will not necessarily help the situation. No matter how difficult it may be, you are going to have to take tougher measures if you are to help your child conquer his addiction. While he has a roof over his head, a comfortable bed to sleep in, food in the refrigerator, someone to bail him out of trouble and a regular source of cash, he is not likely to stop abusing drugs. But when these home comforts are withdrawn and the addict realises that his parents are no longer prepared to make excuses for him and will not be bribed, manipulated or threatened, he is forced to take stock of his situation and hopefully to take positive action.

Never give a young drug addict large amounts of money. Don't be deceived into believing his stories about constantly needing money for petrol, food, cigarettes, sweets, sports equipment, and so on. When chronically addicted, youngsters will spend every cent they have on drugs and will also sell all their possessions to raise money. Don't be intimidated by a young addict's hostility. Make your disapproval clear. Not only are drugs illegal, but they are also an offence against the entire family.

Stop making excuses for the addict. Do not lie to protect your child. Do not allow yourself to he held emotional hostage by the child. If you do not take a firm stand, you may actually be helping the addict to stay ill. Let your child suffer the consequences of his actions and learn by their own mistakes.

Also take a long, hard look at your own behaviour. Parents of addicts sometimes start behaving in unacceptable ways themselves, but they are certainly not setting a good example by lying and making excuses for their children. Accept that the choice of whether to kick the drug habit is your child's and your child's alone. You cannot make up his mind for him. But you certainly can stop supporting his habit.

The same principles apply to husbands and wives who abuse drugs. Sometimes a person may have no option but to leave her spouse in the hope that this action will shock him into realizing that drugs are destroying their relationship and their life together. If your spouse is an addict and is using your earnings to pay for drugs, or is exchanging household goods for drugs, you are unwittingly supporting that person's habit.

Do Not Put Up With Unacceptable Behaviour
Ask yourself if your child's behaviour is acceptable to you. The answer will probably be no. Would you put up with this type of behaviour from anyone else? Again, probably not. Remember that accepting bad behaviour from your child will only prolong the illness. As a parent, you must take a stand and clearly state, "I will not accept my child coming home "stoned" or drunk", "I will not accept lies", "I will not accept stealing".

Parents are adults who - in most cases - are responsible and mature. Their children are not. Parents have the experience to be able to decide what's good for their children. They should also have the authority to be able to implement these decisions. Another factor to bear in mind is that youngsters who are drug abusers do not mature in a normal way. In cases of prolonged abuse, the maturing process may have been stunted. We can safely assume that parents, by virtue of their greater experience, have better judgement than their children.

Youngsters must earn their parents' trust and respect and must prove that they are responsible and deserve privileges and fair treatment.Your home is your haven and it is sacred to you. You don't have to accept bad behaviour from anyone who disrupts its peace and harmony. You, too, have rights, even if you are "only" the parent!

Establish The Rules
Inform your child that, in view of her refusal to co-operate, you are forced to take action. Draw up a "contract", in consultation with your spouse. In it, set out the rules by which your child must abide. The rules you include will obviously depend on your specific circumstances. This is what a typical contract might look like:
No more drugs, not at home, not at school, not at friends' houses, not anywhere. You are not to buy them, sell them, keep them or take them.
You must go to regular therapy or counselling.
You must attend all school classes.
You must dress neatly and appropriately and keep yourself clean.
No alcohol.
No smoking.
No swearing.
No rudeness, nastiness or aggression.
You must keep your room clean and tidy.
You must eat regular meals with the family.
You must help around the house when requested to do so.
No stealing.
No borrowing of possessions.
No breaking of curfews.
No disappearing.

Perseverance Pays
Without nagging or becoming hostile, continue to place firm pressure on the child to go for counselling and drug tests at your nearest hospital or drug centre. Even if the youngster refuses to agree to this, it is important for the parents themselves to go for regular counselling. Persevere in your efforts; try not to give up after one conversation. Don't let your child manipulate you, particularly as the other children in the house will take their lead from how you handle their brothers or sisters.

Find Support
Parents need an enormous amount of support and strength to cope with the problem of a drug-abusing child. Do not be afraid to reach out for help. Join a parent support group, and if there is not one in your area, form one. Youngsters have the support of their peers - why shouldn't you have the same back-up? All that is needed to form a support group is two couples, a place to meet and a common problem which needs solving.

The young drug addict who has decided to kick the habit also needs a great deal of love and support, and it is an excellent idea for the whole family to go for counselling. If you do not have a drug centre near your home, make enquiries until you find a competent social worker, psychologist or family doctor.

There is no overnight solution to drug addiction. The road to rehabilitation is a long and difficult one, and the addict will require on-going support, love and counselling during these difficult months. It is essential that addicts regain their self-esteem and confidence, and in the case of people who have left school, the most effective way to do this is to ensure that they are productively employed. I believe that it is the responsibility of the community - especially the business sector - to make every attempt to accommodate rehabilitated drug addicts and alcoholics.

If the addict is of school-going age, enlist the support of his teachers. Explain the problem to them and ask them to make a special effort to ensure that your child is creatively stimulated during school hours. At home, try to keep the addict happy and occupied.
Be prepared for relapses; they happen often with recovering addicts. You may find that your youngster appears to do very well for a couple of weeks and then suddenly and inexplicably start taking drugs again. In this case, don't panic or lose hope. Continue to give your child your full support and persevere with the treatment.

Drugs And The Family
Drug addiction can wreak havoc in a family. The destructive behaviour of a youngster who is dependent on drugs can cause trauma, tension, guilt, envy and bitterness, can tear marital relationships to shreds and can cause resentment and even hatred between siblings.

Young drug addicts often say, "It's my life, and I can do what I like with it." They assume that their behaviour affects them alone. However, this is not true. Drug addiction influences every single member of the family of the addict and it sometimes has a detrimental effect on the addict's friends as well.

Many people assume that when a youngster acts in an unacceptable fashion, there must be something "wrong" with his family. However, there is no evidence to suggest that a child who abuses drugs has necessarily been neglected, deprived or badly treated in some way. Drug addiction is no respecter of class, race, religion or gender. It can happen to anyone, to the children of divorced parents, or of a single parent, or of a working mother, or of anyone. When one member of a family becomes emotionally ill, the despair creeps slowly from one person to another until cracks begin to appear in even the most stable of relationships. Again, it is essential that both the parents stand firmly together. If they argue about how to act towards their child, this constant dissension could tear at the very foundations of their marriage.

I have spoken to the mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, husbands and wives of addicts; all of them tell the same sorry story of car accidents, disappearances, violence, stealing, dealing, debts, overdoses, suicides and destitution.
Some families suffer even more than the addict himself does. The youngster who is abusing drugs can easily isolate himself from pain and guilt by getting "stoned"; but his family has to face the cold reality of the situation. Families also suffer agonies of embarrassment, cutting themselves off from their friends and attempting to hide their shameful predicament. It is very important that parents, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters get on with their own lives and not let their work or health suffer. Every attempt should be made to keep other members of the family emotionally healthy so that they are not all drawn down into the whirlpool of horror; if necessary, the entire family should go for counselling.

Brothers and sisters are often embarrassed by the addict. They may be teased at school and shunned by friends who automatically link them with the addictís behaviour. They may also resent the fact that their parentsí attention and energies are always focused on the drug-abusing child. Sometimes they feel rejected and begin to hate the brother or sister they previously adored. Occasionally, they might feel obliged to protect the addict in some way, especially if they are aware of the problem and their parents are not. The feelings of guilt and anxiety that result from this deception can be debilitating.

It is very important to explain what is happening to the other children in the family. Even though you may be exhausted and preoccupied with the drug addict, you must remember that the others also need support, care and counselling. They need more attention than ever, not less. Be quite honest and direct, and tell them that they may have to make a few sacrifices for the good of the whole family. Ask them for their patience and understanding and let them know that you are always there when they need you. Tell them that you donít hate the drug addict only what he is doing. Try to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

"Toughlove" is a parent support group that was started in Pennsylvania a few years ago by a couple whose daughter was involved in drugs. The group subsequently developed into a successful organisation that has over 800 groups throughout the United States and Canada. The organization offers and attempts to unite parents in their efforts to help their children. Toughlove strategies are directed towards achieving reconciliation of the child with his family. Among other things, the group encourages parents to confront their youngsters with a structured choice, either to change their behaviour, or to leave. In such situations, other parents in the group offer temporary housing, or arrangements are made with the appropriate social services. Toughlove believes that the most loving act that parents can perform is to carry out their strongest threats.

To Sum Up
It is normal to feel betrayed, angry, terrified and guilty when confronted by the fact that your child is abusing drugs. Donít let these feelings paralyse you. Tackle the problem today.
be silent
get hysterical
reject your child
blame yourself
interrogate your child
make accusations
make it easy for the addict to abuse drugs
walk out in the middle of a discussion
provide extra money
continue to over - protect the child
nag, bribe or preach
become aggressive
give up hope
be calm
be honest
be open
express your feelings
tell the other members of the family
take plenty of time
listen carefully
reassure your child that he always has your support
spell out the choices clearly
attend to other members of the family
look after yourself so that you have the strength to cope
seek professional advice
join a family support group

 How Do Parents Feel When Their Child Is Abusing Drugs
If you have a child who is abusing drugs, or you merely suspect that your child is somehow involved in drugs, you are most likely to be experiencing a whole range of painful emotions.
Do you feel guilty?
Do you feel alone?
Do you feel hopeless?
Do you feel helpless?
Are you frightened?
Are you distraught with worry?
Are you exhausted and run down?
Are you denying that there is a problem?
Do you feel embarrassed and ashamed?
Do you feel depressed?
Do you sometimes feel hatred for your child?
Do you envy other parents who do not have this problem?
Do you feel frustrated and angry?
I know how you feel. I understand how your feel. It is quite normal to feel this way: remember that you are only human. However, these feelings are all negative ones and can only serve to damage your self-esteem.

If you are to help your child recover, you will need every ounce of your strength, confidence and determination. By getting your own life in order, you will be able positively to influence the lives of the people around you. Unhappiness, uncertainty and insecurity can spread from one member of a family to another like an invisible disease.

It took someone years to come to terms with their sonís addiction. Initially, he reacted to his sons behaviour hysterically. He nagged, threatened, bullied, shouted, made accusations and wept, to absolutely no avail. In the process, he became a nervous wreck and the ensuing turmoil took an enormous toll on his health and happiness and that of his family.

I believe that this sort of reaction only serves to increase the young addictís feelings of guilt and anxiety, which he immediately expresses in further acts of hostility, aggression and rebellion. As a parent, you must make an effort to become a cairn, stable and positive force in your childís life. Take control of your life today.

Do You Feel Guilty?
Guilt is one of the most destructive feelings of all and can be paralysing. Of all people, parents ate probably the worst culprits when it comes to feeling guilty. We tend to blame ourselves for everything that goes wrong in our childrenís lives. We were too lenient. Or we were too strict. We gave them too much pocket money. Or too little. We gave them too much attention and smothered them with love. We didnít love them enough. We were too protective. We didnít listen to their problems. On and on it goes, with parents blaming themselves and each other every time something goes wrong.

Whatever happens, tell yourself that you have done your best. You care about your child. Remember that there are many factors that influence a youngsterís decision to start taking drugs, and the situation at home is only a small part of the whole picture. You only want the best for your child, and whatever you did dining his childhood you did with his best interests at heart. The act that your child is abusing drugs is not necessarily your fault. To quote an addict: "There is no blame, only choice". It is also impossible for parents to be perfect all the time. Every parent fails in some way. But this is not because parents do not care about their children.

When children are very young, their parents have complete control and authority over them. However, as children enter their teens their parentsí influence diminishes. At some stage, parents are forced to confront the fact that they cannot control their childrenís lives. This is a frightening realization indeed. Your child has made the choice to drug, and now you must try to undo that decision.
Deep down, your child really wants to he the kind of person you want him to he. He wants you to be proud of him. Remember this at all times, and do not waste time feeling guilty. Stop Naming yourself, your husband, your wife, the school, the police, your childís friends, the dealers, and everything and everyone else. Blaming does not help the situation. People become bogged down with blame. Stop blaming and start acting.

Do You Feel Alone?
There is no need to feel alone. There are many people just like you who have children who abuse drugs and who are experiencing similar emotions. One of the best ways of coping with feelings of isolation is to get into contact with other parents who are in a similar predicament. There are a number of excellent support groups for the parents and families of drug abusers. If there is no support group in your area, get together with other people and form one yourself. The group could include not only parents of drug addicts but also concerned teachers, community workers and friends. All you will need is a place to meet and a desire to share your experiences. Parents who have had strong support from other people in similar situations often wonder how ever managed to get along with out it.

Do You Feel Hopeless
There is no need to feel hopeless. Please remember that addiction is an illness and that it can be treated. I firmly believe that each and every drug addict can be cured, provided that he is correctly treated and, of course, that he actually wants to be rehabilitated. Do not lose hope in yourself or in the ability of the human body to heal itself. Do not lose faith. With perseverance and love, you and your child will triumph.

Do You Feel Helpless?
There is no need to feel helpless. There are many specialist organizations and highly trained individuals who are experts in the field of drug dependence and who will do everything in their power to help you and your child. Professional help is available to every person in this country and really is no more than a phone call away. Even more importantly, you can help yourself and your child. The first step is to get your own life in order. Come to terms with your feelings and work on improving your shattered self-esteem. It is vital that you regain your self-confidence in your capability as a parent and your worth as a human being.

Are You Frightened?
There is not much point in feeling frightened. First, letís examine those feelings of fear. You are probably frightened because you think that something bad will happen to your child. He may have an accident or die from an overdose, he may assault someone in self-defence or anger. He may be arrested. He may be jailed. It is possible that you sometimes fear for your own safety when your child becomes abusive or violent. Of course, these feelings are the perfectly natural response of a loving parent. it is not easy to stand by and watch helplessly while your child deliberately destroys not only his own happiness. but that of his loved ones as well. However, it is important not to waste a single moment worrying about what could happen in the future, these are fears that could drain you of confidence, instead, convent rate of what is happening today. Take each day as it comes.

Are You Distraught?
It is natural for you to be worried. However, worry is another draining emotion that will gradually eat away at your energy. Worrying will not solve the problem; positive action will, I believe that the more the addict becomes embroiled in drugs and the drug subculture, the more frustrated he becomes by loving parental concern. Your are not doing your child any favours by worrying about him. You must allow him to take responsibility for his own life, lie has a right to learn from his mistakes and experience the consequences of this behaviour.

Are You Exhausted And Run Down?
Exhaustion is debilitating and will prevent you from functioning to the best of your ability. This is a time when you need your strength, so try to take good care of your body and to get enough sleep. It is important to set a good example for your children, so try not to take sleeping pills or tranquilizers indiscriminately. Your good health will have a positive influence on the entire family. You owe it to your self and to them.

Are You Denying That There Is A Problem?
Do not play the denial game. Denial will only prolong your childís illness. Face up to the facts, and take positive action.

Do You Feel Embarrassed And Ashamed?
There is no need to feel embarrassed. Just as diabetes, cancer or pneumonia are illnesses, addiction is also an illness, albeit au illness of choice. You would not he ashamed of these illnesses were they to occur in your family, so why be ashamed of your childís addiction? You may well be embarrassed by your childís behaviour, but please remember that this us only a symptom of his illness. While your child is dependent on drugs, he is not behaving in a rational way. Donít avoid your friends and donít stop inviting them to your home.

Are You Denying That There Is A Problem?
It is natural to feel depressed. Children have a unique ability to affect their parentsí moods and emotions. If they are happy, we are happy. If they are sad, we are sad. When they are in trouble, we fear for them. When they are miserable, our heats break for them. Similarly, parentsí moods can and do affect the way their children behave. If you are depressed, it will spread to the whole family. If your child is aware of your anguish, it will give him yet another reason for not facing up to his problem. All you are doing is making him feel more guilty than ever. And that guilt will probably be expressed as anger or hostility, further aggravating the situation.
You may he deeply hurt by your childís behaviour but remember that his mind and emotions are being influenced by the drugs and that lie is not really capable of acting rationally. Donít allow yourself to become depressed, and donít let the drug addict and his behaviour destroy your e(1llihibriuni. Try not to wallow in self-pity. Try to think about your own needs, amid to set your life in order. You need consideration too. You learn to say NO!

Do You Sometimes Feel Hatred For Your Child?
It can be very frightening for one to realize that one is actually capable of feeling hatred for oneís own child. This is a normal reaction. After all, your child may be tearing your life apart and destroying everything you hold dear. But it is not your child that you hate. What you really hate is the illness from which your child suffers. You are angry about his addiction, not about him. Confront your feelings of hatred and try to remember that this is only a passing phase. These feelings will evaporate as you start to rebuild your life and patch up your battered self-esteem.

Do You Envy Other Parents?
I have you ever asked the question. "Why me?" Have you ever looked at your friendsí children amid seen perfect. clean-living, rosy-cheeked little angels who give their parents nothing but pleasure? Have you wondered "Why isnít it happening to anyone else? Why are we being punished?

Once again, envy and jealousy are negative, destructive feelings. When you feel this way, remind yourself that there are many others worse off then you, and that everyone has his own problems to 1)ear. You never know what is happening behind closed doors in other peopleís homes. Donít feel as if you are the only person in the world who is suffering.

Do You Feel Frustrated And Angry?
Do you feel angry or want to blame the following people for your problem?
Your child
The drug merchants
The drug industry
The school
The teachers
Your husband or wife
The government and the police.
Your childís friends, especially those whom you feel are giving him or selling him drugs.
Itís quite normal to feel angry - in fact, if you didnít feel angry you wouldnít he normal. So do'nt let these emotions make you feel guilty. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Accept your anger and use it constructively. You can control your anger and how you express it. Find ways of letting off steam. Go into an empty field and scream. Or cover your head with a pillow and shriek as loudly as you can. Take a carpet outside, hang it over the line and beat it with a broom until your arms ache. Or channel that negative energy into something positive: take a long walk, go to gym, paint a picture, make jam or pray. Let your child know that you are angry, but do so quietly and firmly, without losing your temper.

Addicts themselves feel enormous guilt and this is usually expressed in anger. All too often, members of their families are used as whipping boys. Try as hard as you can to detach yourself from your child and to ignore his fury. Keep telling yourself that he is angry at himself, not at you.

 What Message Do You Have To young People?
Let me say at the outset that I would never presume to preach or dictate to you. All I ask is that you take the trouble to learn the true facts about drug and alcohol abuse. Then it is your choice -all the way. Ultimately, the decision whether or not to try drugs is yours, and nobody else can make it for you - not me, not your parents, not your teachers or your friends.
Remember, however, that taking the decision to experiment with drugs is easy. But it is very, very difficult - sometimes impossible - to stop taking drugs once you become dependent on them. Some people have likened that first decision to jumping out of a window - you canít change your mind half - way.

I know how tough it can be. Young people hear many confusing and conflicting opinions about drugs. Adults tell them that drinking is bad, yet they do it themselves all the time, sometimes to excess. They see older people behaving badly after drinking and then using the excuse, "But I was drunk" to justify their actions. They are subjected to a range of glamorous alcohol and cigarette advertisements on radio, television and in magazines. They may see their own parents taking pills for every minor ailment. They read about rock musicians and film stars who have destroyed their lives by abusing drugs. But they also hear rock and reggae stars singing about the delights of drugs. Who can blame them for being confused?

As youngsters leave their childhood years, they come into contact with new situations with which they have never before had to deal. This is the time when parties, clubs, boyfriends, girlfriends, sex, alcohol and drugs suddenly become important issues. Amid this is the time when young people are most likely to be offered drugs for the first time.

Think About Drugs
Ask yourself what you would like to achieve in your life. Where are you heading, and what are your goals? How are you going to set about becoming the person you want to be? Do alcohol or drugs fit into the scheme of things? Are they going to help you?
You may decide that drugs will assist you to accomplish what you have set out to do. Unfortunately. quite the opposite is true. In the long run, drugs will impede your process, possibly without your even noticing it.

Then think about the risks that drugs entail. Pease remember that all drugs are potentially dangerous and that they all carry some degree of risk. By drugs, I refer not only to so-called soft drugs such as dagga and cocaine, but also to alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, prescribed medications and illegal street drugs. - Mandrax, heroin, LSD, amphetamines and barbiturates, to mention but a few. If you experiment with drugs, there is a fair chance that you could become dependent on them.

Drug dependence is a serious illness that can ruin your future prospects. If you reach the point where you are not able to function without drugs, you may end up becoming the opposite of everything you ever wanted to be: a demotivated, dishonest, irrational, insecure and confused person who lives for drugs and cannot live without them. Your health will deteriorate, your work will suffer and you will lose many of your friends. Drug dependence is an illness that can cause an enormous amount of damage to families, shattering relationships and breaking up marriages. When you try that first "joint", you are putting the health and happiness of your whole family at risk.

Sone of you may he thinking, "Wait a minute. My parents are already divorced", or "I have terrible problems." or "My family has neglected and ill-treated me - why should I care about themí?", or "Why shouldnít I use drugs to help me solve my problems?" Stop. Think. Drugs do not make problems disappear. They only create more problems. Never forget that. Rather ask yourself, "Why should I mess up my life just because others have messed up theirs? Drugs cannot make you a better kind of person. They can, however, change a wonderful human being into a biochemical zombie! When you experiment with drugs, you are playing Russian roulette with your life.

In the words of a twenty-four-year-old ex-drug addict: "Drugs are so deceptive. What starts out as "flirt-drugging" once or twice a week can so easily end in disaster and death. You get used to drugs so quickly that before you know it you realize thereís no turning back. You keep on conning yourself that youíre in control but eventually you lose your identity arid you become what the drugs want you to be. You are no longer yourself The drugs have taken you over. You have become an anti-social, demotivated, drug-ridden drop-out."
Itís important to think about these risks before you are actually confronted with drugs. You never know exactly when the time will come that you are offered them, and itís wise to be prepared. It may happen so suddenly that you are caught unawares and donít know what to do. Somebody could offer you a "jointí at a party, or a stranger may approach you in the Street. So itís vital to decide beforehand how you will cope.

John Kelly, an ex-drug addict, who lost his business and now works as a drug counsellor, says: "Drugs arenít prejudiced. They will kill anyone, regardless of race, colour, religion or social status."

He goes on to say, "Do you know whatís cool today? The people who donít use drugs or hang around with those who do. Itís more than just saying "NO!" to drugs, itís staying away from those who use them. The people who are cool today are those who live in the here-and-now, facing up to life with its good times amid its bad. Go anywhere to get your answers, but please donít go to drugs. Because when you get to the end of the road and quit using, your problems will still be there. And theyíll be a thousand times worse

Saying "NO!" To Friends
I understand how difficult it is to say "NO!" to friends. I know how it feels to be left out, or to be thought a "square". And 1 understand the doubts and anxieties that teenagers suffer when pressurized by friends into trying drugs. This is the dilemma of many teenagers: on the one hand, they know that drugs are dangerous; on the other, they donít want to be rejected or dismissed as a ĎĎstraight".
So what do you do if your friends offer you drugs? Just say "NO!". Itís as simple as that. If you have already thought about the drug issue, you will probably find it much easier to say "NO!". Tell your friends what you have learnt about drugs: if enough of them say "NO!", youíll soon find that you are in the majority and others will follow your lead. Donít waste one precious moment of your life by clouding your mind with chemical substances.

If You Are Already Taking Drugs
You have made your choice. Itís your decision, and you must accept the consequences of your behaviour. However, it is wrong to try and persuade other young people to do the same thing because you donít like to take drugs alone. You may be condemning someone else to a living death. Think about that before you offer drugs to your friends; bear in mind that it is impossible to predict whether someone will become addicted to drugs. You may think that you can control drugs but how do you know that your friend can?
So, the future is in your hands. The choice is yours, arid I hope youíll make the right one.

 Have The Courage To Change
The good news is that all drug addicts can be cured if they really want to be. The had news is that many donít want to be rehabilitated. Some do not reach out for help until it becomes too late.
No alcoholic or drug addict is a hopeless cause. There are thousands of people throughout the world who have successfully conquered a drug or alcohol habit to emerge as healthy, positive. joyful adults who live their hives to the full. They are all around you, working, playing, living. loving, happy, normal. You can do it too. Not only have they managed to break the vicious circle of drug dependence, but they have also managed to stay off drugs.

I understand how difficult it is. Giving up drugs does not merely entail stopping taking them; it also involves abandoning a lifestyle to which you have became accustomed, turning your back on friends to whom you may feel deep loyalties and, most importantly, changing habits that have become second nature. So how do you go about tearing yourself away from the environment that threatens to destroy you? Itís very simple. You walk away.
"Thatís ridiculous", I hear you say. "No, thatís impossible". Nothing is impossible. If you have made up your mind to give up drugs and you are really determined to succeed, you will triupmph. Itís been done many times before, by people just like you.

Make The Decision To Change
If you are able to admit to yourself that you have a problem with drugs, then half your battle is over. Unfortunately. many addicts only reach this point when their lives on drugs have become intolerable, when they have lost their jobs, when their families and friends have rejected them; when they have been arrested or jailed; when they are ill; or even when they suddenly find themselves at deathís door.
Do not wait for this to happen. Do not wait for your life to hit rock bottom before you take the decision to change. Letís face it: drugs are probably not making you happy any more. Instead of solving your problems, drugs have become the problem. You are taking them for the sake of taking them, arid they are destroying your life.

How To Come Off Drugs
Your first step is to reach out for help. It is very difficult, sometimes impossible for a person who is dependent on drugs to kick the habit without any guidance or therapy. In time case of certain drug, such as barbiturates, opiods, and alcohol, it can be dangerous, even life-threatening, to stop taking them suddenly. If you are addicted to any drug and want to stop taking it, do not do so without careful and constant medical supervision.

Some addicts believe that if they are able to go without drugs for a few days or weeks, they are no longer addicted. This is quite untrue. You canít simply reduce the amount of drugs you take -you have to stop completely. You must accept that, from now on, drugs are no longer part of your life.

Research has shown that the central nervous system of a typical drug addict who is admitted to a detoxification programme will he almost back to normal within a couple of weeks. It is therefore relatively easy to stop for a short period but extremely difficult to remain abstinent amid to adjust to a life without drugs. In other words, the problem is not so much stopping, as staying off drugs.
There are many people and institutions which a drug addict can reach out to for help. Initially. it is a good idea to confide in a person whom you trust and love, such as your spouse or a close friend or member of your family. You will need all the love, support and encouragement you can get in the difficult months to come. Then make contact with your family doctor, or the nearest branch of SANCA. Alcoholics Anonymous, or Lifeline, or - if there is one in your area - a drug counselling centre

The staff who man these organizations are trained to provide expert advice and support and will do everything in their power to assist you. Obviously, your treatment will depend to a great extent on the severity of your dependence, on your personal circumstances and on your drugs of abuse. You may be advised to enter a hospital or detoxification unit to "dry out" for a period or you could he encouraged to enter a rehabilitation centre as an in - patient. The other alternative is to agree to regular counselling or therapy on an out - patient basis. Whatever treatment the experts recommend, donít hesitate to discuss all your fears with them. It is very important to talk about the suffering you are experiencing, preferably to someone who understands what you are going through, such as an experienced drug counsellor or a rehabilitated ex - addict.

You will probably experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking drugs. The severity of these will depend on your drug of abuse and the extent of your dependence. The one positive aspect of withdrawal symptoms is that they indicate that you are on the road to recovery. If these feelings or sensations become unbearable, continue to reassure yourself that they will pass and that eventually you will succeed in conquering your addiction.
You may also experience intense cravings that will test your patience and willpower to the limits. When you find yourself craving drugs, try not to dwell on the pleasant sensations or the good times you experienced while using them. Think instead of the negative and harmful effects that drugs have had on your life. Think about your reasons for giving them up. Think of the long-term benefits of a drug-free life, and repeat these over and over to yourself. Take half an hour at a time and concentrate on getting through those minutes without giving in to your craving. Gradually lengthen the time until you can endure whole days without drugs.

Drug Paraphenalia
Throw away all your drugs and drug paraphernalia. Donít keep anything - not even your favourite pipe, and donít give anything away to friends. Flush the drugs down the toilet amid burn all your "equipment". This symbolic act of purging will further reinforce your determination to succeed.

Friends Who Use Drugs
Avoid friends who still use drugs. You are going to have enough problems controlling your own cravings without the additional strain of having to resist pressure from friends. Drug users tend to regard themselves as a persecuted minority and you may find that some friends feel hurt or angry by your "defection" to the other side. Do not let this deter you; explain your position and tell them that you will not be swayed. Also steer clear of "losers" - their failure tends to rub oilí on others arid they will probably try to lure you back into the fold.

Similarly. itís wise to avoid the places amid social situations that are associated in your mind with drug taking: for now, keep away from pubs, clubs, rock concerts or parties where drugs will be present. When you have recovered, you can go back to these places without having to feel that you need to take drugs to enjoy yourself.

Your Family
Discuss your problem with your family. Explain that you are coming off drugs and let them know what to expect. Ideally, members of your immediate family should attend counselling so that they, too, can understand what you are going through. If you are living with a person who is abusing drugs and does not want to give them up, there is only one option for you and that is to move out. You must think of yourself arid your own recovery, you cannot afford to be held back by others weaker than your.

Other Drugs
Don't swap one drug for another. Many addicts think that itís all right to stop taking drugs and to take alcohol instead. Alcohol is also a dangerous, dependence-producing drug: just because it is legal does not mean to say that it cannot harm you. Stay way from all other drugs.
Sone recovering addicts worry about the drugs they will need to take should they become ill. If you are unwell, consult a caring general practitioner who knows about addiction. Explain your predicament and ask for advice. Most importantly, take only those drugs that have been prescribed by your Doctor.

Are common with recovering addicts. donít be discouraged by them, and donít use them as an excuse to abandon your struggle. Ďtry not to dwell on your failure; instead, turn a negative experience into a positive one and allow your temporary relapse to strengthen your sense of purpose. Eventually you will find that your relapses become fewer and further apart until they eventually stop altogether. If you are 100% sincere, determined and committed then there should be no relapse. It is your choice whether to do it or not.

Keeping Busy
When you are no longer taking drugs, you may find gaps in your life that need to be filled. It is vital for recovering addicts to keep busy arid to fill their lives with interesting activities. Take up a new spoil, join a club, or take part-time courses or night classes. Join a voluntary organisation and help others who are less fortunate than yourself not only will your mind be enriched by this stimulation, but you are also likely to meet a variety of new and interesting people who do not use drugs.

On - Going Support
One of two visits to a therapist are not sufficient and will not cure you of your dependence on drugs. So it is essential to continue with your treatment programme until your counsellor is satisfied that you are able to live your life completely drug-free.

However difficult, however distressing, however agonizing those first few drug-free weeks are, always remember that you are winning. Your are giving yourself the chance to live again. You are beating time enemy and victory will be yours. Hold on to your dream.

 Case Histories
It is not my intention to dramatise any of the case histories which arc to follow. The main purpose is to give you the reader insight to the pain and sufferings the families have to endure.

Over time years I have discovered that a habitual drug-addict, if married, resorts to either wife-battering, child abuse, an addict is unemployed and as in most cases his wife and children cannot exercise any further patience with the result the family is torn apart by means of a divorce.

Unmarried addicts resort to violence and theft in order to obtain drugs. Mothers are abnormally their target obtain their required funds. Mothers have been physically beaten up whilst one mother in particular was forced to beg for money. She (the mother) would only accept cash and not kind. The reason being that if she did not give him money, he would beat her up. Most addicts after sometime or the other become "drop outs". Reason being they are unemployed. The drug dependency leads some of them to become "pedlars" (sell drugs). Others turn out to be "vegetables", i.e. they cannot fend for themselves. They become totally dependant on others for their survival. There was also the case where tinder heavy influence, the addict beat his mother with a cricket bat. Later he swore under oath that he could not remember carrying out such an act.

in cases where violence prevails, the addict will smash anything that conies in his way. This is because of the psychological of physical dependency or both that overpowers him. In such cases many an addict or family member have suffered serious injuries.
Over dosing has resulted in a couple of deaths, be it directly or indirectly. By this we mean that the addict did not recover from the overdose or he was so "up high" that me met tip in a fatal accident. His negligence has also resulted in innocent people being killed or permanently maimed.

The above case histories is but only a summary. The pain, suffering arid effects can only be best described by those who suffer alongside the addict.

By Dr. Anwar Jeewa

Home  >   Islamic Medicine & Health   >  Drugs and Addiction: A Sinister threat
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