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The abuse of drugs can have very serious effects on yourself and your family. The consequences can be so devastating and cause the irreparable damage to your own social life and that of your family as a social unit.

On Yourself

Your whole outlook on life changes. Most of the time, the effects of drugs will:

  • have a negative impact on their self-esteem, relationship skills, their physical and emotional independence, and future plans. As a result, they often lose job and their reputation is often tarnished by their behaviours.
  • also increase the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among females resulting from unprotected sexual activity.
  • not only influence the social problems above, they also threaten the fundamentals of the social fabric of societies such as values, beliefs, and cultural systems; and can cause a range of mental illnesses that are not necessarily reversible.
  • increase risk-taking behaviours, which can have serious consequences and is a leading cause of death or injury related to car accidents, suicides, violence, and drowning.
  • make frequent delinquency to take place because of dysfunctional dynamics within the home, and these are mostly characterized by poverty, disruption and conflict. Studies also show that some of the crimes committed by young people are frequently a result of the need for the money to support their drug habits and addictions (Bholah, 2007).
  • make you a recluse, want you to shy away from society as a whole;
  • without a dose of the drug, make the abuser feels flat, lifeless, depressed. Without drugs, an abuser's life seems joyless.

By abusing drugs, the addicted person has changed the way his or her brain works. Drug abuse and addiction lead to long-term changes in the brain. These changes cause addicted drug users to lose the ability to control their drug use. Drug addiction is a disease. [1]

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Tell us a story

The students of West Village Senior High School rushed out of the school gates that Friday afternoon with shouts of joy and relief. The long awaited end to examinations and long hours of study were finally over. In three days they would graduate and walk proudly across the stage to receive their diplomas. Laughter filled the air, joy seemed on the faces of everyone. Many students would enjoy the vacations at the beach, visiting each other or doing part-time jobs to earn themselves some money.

John, a tall handsome young man who had captained the school's football team for three seasons, smiled his mischievous smile and walked towards his three best friends, Micah, Kyle and Juan. In his hand he waved an envelope. It was his official acceptance to West Village University. He had received the scholarship he had studied,worked and played hard for. The friends jumped, whooped and clapped joyfully on hearing the news and suggested a celebratory feast.

Off they drove in the car Kyle had borrowed from his parents that morning. Kyle drove carefully and with full concentration on the road, even as his friends joked and called out to girls as they passed. What a feast it was. they ate more pizzas and dessert than could feed a team. they were amazed at the number of empty beer bottles on their table when they rose to leave the roadside inn.

John staggered out, barely able to stand upright. This was a completely new experience for him. As an athlete he had never gotten into the habit of drinking alcohol. However, his friends had insisted even when he had repeatedly said no. He had given in only when they had teased him and called him Johnny-Lyn. He thought he would have a beer to prove them wrong. One had turned to two, and two and to many more during the evening.

On approaching the car, John insisted that he drive on his celebration night. Kyle knew that John had only three days before he obtained his driver's license and that he shouldn't be letting John drive his parents' car. On encouragement from the two other friends, Kyle agreed and John climbed into the driver's seat. Off they went into the night. The long road was fairly free of traffic and they joked and sang as they went along. Kyle, sitting next to John in the front seat, fell into a deep sleep and was soon lost in his dream world. the others soon began to succumb to the night wind, good food and many beers.

Suddenly, in front of them loomed the uncoming light of a truck which had overtaken the lorry. in confusion, John came fully awake. Before he could veer away from the truch, it happened. A crash which sent the car spinning into the shallow ditch to the right. Kyle was killed instantly; John received severe damage to both legs, one of them would be lame for the rest of his life; Juan drowned from being thrown into the water in the shallow ditch; and Micah, though badly cut and bruised, escaped with his most dangerous wound being a large gash from his left knee to mid calf. (From Living 18 and Beyond by Patricia Ogilvie-Frederick, 2002).

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From the story above

  1. Identify at least four critical instances where decisions taken that led to this unfortunate ending.
  2. Suggest alternative decisions that could have been made for each of the instances identified
  3. Identify at least three skills that John and Kyle needed to cope with this situation


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Role Play

  • 1.Get pupils to role play the different effects drugs have on drug users.
  • 2.Have them identify one person in the group to play the drug user (marijuana).
  • 3.He comes to each of them to give them a puff of the stuff, boasting how good he is feeling.
  • 4.Have each of the other members of the group refuse and state very strongly that they are not interested in drugs, giving reasons why.

On Your Family

When drugs come into the family, parents and siblings have to confront with much pain when a son or daughter, brother or sister develops a drug problem. A chain of negative events are set in motion and have severe and enduring impacts on family functioning as well as on the social and physical lives.

  • The continued use of drugs by the family member, despite help or opposition, leaves families feeling an acute impotence to alter the course of the drug problem.
  • Parents lament the loss of the child that was
  • most siblings report sadness at the loss of a valued relationship.
  • Others witness their child or sibling becoming more enmeshed by the drug problem, they have a sharp sense of the vulnerability. This is created through involvement in criminal activities.
  • homelessness and vagrancy would result because of family ties being eroded.
  • hospitalisation,violence and the risk of death through overdose *contraction of disease, . (Bholah, 2007).
  • other social problems, namely, child neglect, poverty, social pressures and traumas, crime and death and diseases.

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Writing Activity

Your father comes home drunk every day and demands attention from your mother and the children.

Your mother tries to calm him down and this makes him even more angry. He abuses your mother physically and all the younger children run and hide in the bedroom. You try and assist your mother but you also come under staggering blows. You have thought hard and prayed about thisfor the past six months and it is becoming just too much to bear.

Without getting yourself in trouble, what steps would you take in trying to remedy the situation?

Addiction and Recovery

Families remain the cornerstone of societies in all cultures throughout the world to resist alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse and to cope with problems where they occur. Drug addiction is a complex but treatable brain disease.

1.Addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body

  • The person starts using the drug
  • The person gets high
  • The person keeps using the drug
  • The Brain changes
  • It takes more of the drug to get high
  • The person starts to depend on the drug
  • The person gets sick without the drug
  • The drug causes serious problems

2.Recovery is possible if the person admits having a problem

  • The person can no longer deny the addiction

Something happens in the person's life that causes him/her to admit that there is a problem Then the person decides to do whatever it takes to stop using the drug and get reatment.

  • The person stops using the drug

When addicted people stop using a drug, they usually have some kind of physical withdrawal. The body and the brain try to remember how to work without the drug. Withdrawal can be mild to severe. It depends on the drug, the addiction and the person. It can last several days to several weeks. Medical may be needed to get through the physical withdrawal symptoms.

  • The person learns about drug addiction

To recover from addiction, people learn how drugs worked in their lives. They learn why and how they used the drug to deal with life's problems. Counseling and group therapy are often needed during this stage

  • The person learns to live comfortably without drugs

People with an addiction cannot use drugs again. To recover, they learn positive and healthy ways to cope with day-to-day life without drugs. This stage can last for a long time. Therapy and/or ongoing self-help support groups can be helpful. Helping others through the early stages of recovery can make it easier for a recovring person not to start using drugs again.

The ultimate goal of drug addiction treatment is to enable an individual to achieve lasting abstinence, but the immediate goals are to reduce drug abuse, improve the patient's ability to function, and minimize the medical and social complications of drug abuse and addiction. Like people with diabetes or heart disease, people in treatment for drug addiction will need to change behavior to adopt a more healthful lifestyle.(National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency)

How Can I tell if a friend or relative has a problem with alcohol, marijuana or other illicit drugs?

Sometimes it is hard to tell. Most people would not walk up to someone they are close to and ask for help. In fact, they are most like to, and do everything possible to deny or hide the problem. But, there will always be some warning signs to indicate that a family member or friend is using drugs and drinking too much alcohol.

If your friend or relative has one of the following signs, then he/she may have a problem with drugs or alcohol:

  • getting high on drugs or getting drunk on a regular basis
  • lying about things, the amount of drugs or alcohol they are using
  • avoiding you and others in order to get high or drunk
  • giving up activities they used to do such as sports, homework or hanging out with friends who do not do drugs/drink
  • having to use more marijuana or other illicit drugs to get the get the same effects
  • constantly talking about using drugs or drinking
  • believing that in order to have fun they need to drink or use marijuana or other drugs
  • pressuring others to use drugs or drink
  • getting into trouble with the law
  • taking risks, including sexual risks and driving under the influence
  • feeling run down, hopeless, depressed or even suicidal
  • suspension from school/work for a drug/alcohol-related incident
  • missing school or poor work performance because of drinking or drug use.
  • Many of the signs, like sudden mood swings, difficulty in getting along with others, poor job/school performance, irritability and depression, might might be explained by other causes. Unless you observe drug use or excessive drinking, it can be hard to determine the cause of these problems. Your first step is to contact a qualified alcohol/drug professional in your area who can give you advice.

More information can be found on the Signs for Drug Addiction (for parents and educators) page. <kaltura-widget kalturaid='100545' size='L' align='L'/>