It is the wrong choices we make in our lives that lead us to become drug addicts. Teenagers are faced with peer pressure every day, be it at school or while socialising. From the age of 11 to 17, teenagers tend to drift away from confiding in their parents as ‘independence’ has now become their objective. Most teenagers want to grow up faster and do things that would give them a sense of becoming mature; of being able to say, ‘I’ve been there and done that’, or ‘I’ve tried that’, or, ‘I can handle it’. A large number of teenagers hear about, or get introduced to drugs at school. This leads to them becoming inquisitive about drugs, possibly awaiting that first experiment. It all starts off as ‘let’s have some fun’ and, usually, it is with dagga. The first try will either make them like the feeling or hate the feeling of losing self-control. The attraction of ‘getting high’ would make the drug use more regular; this is how addiction starts.
No one using drugs for the first time, i.e. in the curiosity or experimental stage, tries the drug thinking that they could end up a drug addict. And no person would try a drug for the first time by herself or himself. There is always an encouraging talk prior to the experimentation, with the discussion going around what will happen to you while and after you have used the drug. With dagga, it is usually the expectation of excessive giggles and laughter for no apparent reason, excessive eating (the munchies), hallucinations, lethargy, and a nonchalant chilled out feeling. Below is a scenario of a true life experience of Samantha (Sammy) and how she got addicted to drugs from that first drag of dagga to becoming a completely destructive cocaine a
Sammy tells her story: For me, there was a big hype around smoking dagga. I was fifteen and the older group that I joined had all used dagga before, so it was a mouth-watering temptation for me to see what ‘weed’ is all about because I wanted to be cool and join the hip crowd at school. It all happened on a gloomy day in the middle of Joburg’s bone biting winter. I remember Cheryl, the eldest of us, had ‘scored the weed’ and so, the next day, our group decided to bunk school and meet outside the school gates. We knew that Cherly’s parents were both at work and that her home would be available, so we could smoke there. Mandy, Cheryl’s younger cousin, who was also fifteen at the time, decided to join us for his first ‘joint’. She had that scared look on her face, kinda like she wasn’t sure but the talk amongst the girls was that it was cold and the weed would warm us up. All of these expectations were just feeding our false belief systems on what dagga is going to do for us. There were four joints rolled and eight of us who had to share. Sammy shared a joint with Cheryl and was encouraged to take more drags because it was her first experience. I admit, I was also scared but my pride got the better of me so I had to show the girls I can do this! Moments later, my head started spinning, my mouth became dry, I had this funny buzzing sensation going on around my head, with my ears becoming red and hot and my eyes started tearing. But I acted like I was in control; all I could hear was, ‘have more, have more.’
My attention suddenly moved to Mandy because I heard her coughing. To me, it seemed as though she was getting choked. She suddenly fell to the ground crunching her tummy and coughing profusely. Then, she jumped up and ran to the toilet to vomit. She said, ‘I think I’m going to die, call my parents, take me to the hospital,’ and started praying for God to help her. The other girls brought her water and tried to calm her down by rubbing her back. Then she began to hold her head, blabbering nonsensical words. Then she began to hallucinate. She said she could hear police sirens and she could hear footsteps on the roof. Now I was really scared by looking at the effects of that joint, and how it was affecting Mandy. I forgot about the sensations and effects I was having from the dagga as all my attention was on Mandy, worried about what’s happening to her. Cheryl rushed over to the neighbour who came, assessed the situation and called the paramedics. I was so scared that I disappeared from the scene before Cheryl and Mandy’s parents were contacted. This was a horrible experience for Mandy, and I should have learnt a lesson, then, of the consequences of drugs and drug addiction. I didn’t realise at the time the dangers of drug addiction and where my life would end up from that first drag of dagga. Sadly enough, the entire Mandy episode did not scare me enough to stop me joining that group of boys and not to use dagga again. A few weeks later, all of us, excluding Mandy, laughed about that incident over another joint. Years later, I met Mandy again. She got herself an education, a secure job and a family to go with it. Today, I wish I was Mandy then and that frightening experience had happened to me as I wouldn’t have ended up a drug addict.