Saturday, August 21, 2010

Elephant in the room

To say that drugs with teens in Cape Town have become a huge problem would certainly be the understatement of the century. How we got here and what are we doing about it is the elephant in the room I often consider.

Yes there are rehab centres, loving support from families and loved ones to try to tackle the problem- but is this really enough? We still have mega-stats compared to other regions of the country. Where will this leave us in 10 years time? Many of you may have first-hand experience of dealing with a loved one involved in drugs or even know someone whose still addicted.

I personally have first-hand experience in dealing with a loved one involved in drugs and can certainly tell you it can drive you insane. And we’re not even talking about a teen here. It’s just beyond taxing to deal with. You’re concerned all the time – don’t know what madness you might come home to and cannot trust the person at all. The promises, the attempts to cover it all up. There’s the stage where you’re suspicious… and the policing starts to find clues. You die a little horrible death when these clues are found and your suspicions are confirmed. Then there’s the stage of attempting to deal with the problem. Scolding, threatening, being loving and supportive, counselling and rehab. You question all the time what could have driven the person to undertake such measures to deal and cope with life and what you can do to help. At the time- I endeavoured to do whatever I could in an attempt to help the person concerned…. or so I thought. There were times I thought great progress was made and times where my hopes were shattered. If anything I realized- nothing… and I mean nothing… no amount of counselling scolding or rehab can help the person unless he/she wants to do something about it. Unless he/she really wants the help and really wants to rehabilitate. Then and only then might your efforts be worth something.

That’s attempting to deal with the problem already there- or the symptom of the problem rather. What can we do towards prevention is my question? And here I think looking at the reasons for using in the first place is your first pointer. Peer pressure? Make them feel good? Escape problems? So many teens, particularly in Cape Town, and adults use all sorts of drugs to get the high. Meth, crack, cocaine, heroine…name your preference, are all used to get some sort of a high. To get that feeling of omnipotence, that feeling of pleasure… that feeling of I’m handling life. I think rather it’s high time we look at what we can do to prevent our loved ones from succumbing to these unnatural highs and prove life can be just as pleasurable.

If you’re asking me, drug addicts are highly intelligent people that lack healthy stimulation in their lives. These days children get propped in front of a TV set or sit with video games for hours on end. Or they’re dropped off at the mall to spend countless hours to do what?? Stare at flashy stores and advertisements…movies? Please, what are you stimulating your child or loved one with?

I think towards prevention- everyone should be stimulated to explore and find their passions. Everyone has a gift and sometimes it takes a bit of work to find it. There are many ways to find pleasure and relax. You’re into numbers, words, creative arts, performing arts, sports, cooking… the possibilities are endless. When you focus on something you love doing, you’re engaged for hours. I normally refer to it as the time-stopping moment. And in this light- I think we’re much better served taking the time and effort to assist each other in finding and engaging in our time-stopping moments. Sitting in front of a TV set is not a time stopping moment people!

I think our natural passions and lessons in taking responsibility are the keys to dealing with this elephant in the room. It’s not just the person dealing with the problem’s problem - It’s our problem and all of us can do something about it by setting the example. Explore your passions and encourage your loved ones to do the same.