As time has gone by over the past ten to fifteen years there has been a steadily increasing rate of drug use by teens and at schools. This problem is not inherent of only a few countries, but is rather a global trend that has never experienced a true decline. CNN has recently published a survey on the use of alcohol and drugs during teen’s school day, the results are shocking.

A survey done by the National centre on addiction and substance abuse at Columbia university showed that around 17% of American high school students are consuming alcohol or abusing drugs while they are attending school. If one fifth of students are taking drugs during school hours then we can assume that a much larger portion of American students are drinking or using drugs after school hours and on weekends.

Although this survey was done in America it still relates to us as South Africans. Substance abuse within South Africa rivals that of America, perhaps being even worse. South Africa’s struggling history and masses of children and teens that are living in poor and broken homes has led to a generation that is neglected and highly susceptible to peer pressure. A large portion of lower class students that attend public school are already addicted to one form of drug or another. South Africa has been suffering from a very bad unemployment rate over the past, which is now sitting at 25.2%, which means that there are well over 12 million people without jobs in the country. This absence of opportunities for decent and sustainable employment coupled with the lack of policing in the poorer communities makes the trapping of drug dealing more appealing to youths with no other options. Once these teens start to deal, it is almost certain that they will start to use drugs as well.

According to the South African Bureau of Justice, 85% of teens know where to get dagga and 55% of students know where to get their hands on amphetamines (crystal meth in particular). In rural, urban and suburban areas average of 35% of students are reported to use drugs, even more shocking is that 30% of students say that they have been offered to buy drugs while at school. This problem is also affecting younger teens as well, 17% of South African eighth graders have confessed to having tried inhalants such as thinners, glue, hair spray and other substances.

According to CNN’s survey there are some factors of particular interest that can increase substance abuse:

Peer pressure: Digital peer pressure is becoming a problem. According to the survey 75% of 12 to 17 year old students say that they are being encouraged to drink and to smoke marijuana when they see images and videos of their friends and peers doing so.

Parental involvement: Teens whose parents are more lenient when it comes to drug or tobacco use are much more likely to take drugs or to try cigarettes. One third of these teens are twice as likely to have tried dagga and alcohol and three times more likely to have tried smoking.

Faith: Faith and religion also play a role here. Teens who attend religious services regularly are much less likely to try drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

These factors only scratch the surface of what causes teens to take drugs during their school life, however, if parents talk to their children regularly and help them navigate through their school lives then hopefully they will come out untarnished by drug addiction.

Author's Bio: 

The Harmony Group is a registered non-profit organisation, the Harmony Foundation, whose sole aim is to bring the highest standards of treatment for addictions and other compulsive behaviours to South Africa.