"SUBSTANCE abuse can really change a person – your judgment and views change and everything seems easier though it is not.”
Those are the words of a 19-year-old Grade 12 pupil at James Jolobe High School in NU4, who did not want to be named.
He said the school’s anti-drugs programme, Teenagers Against Drug Abuse (TADA), teachers and parents helped him overcome his drug addiction.
"I joined Tada in 2010 because I wanted to change my ways. I smoked mandrax from 2005 till February this year. My teachers noticed something was wrong with me since they always told me I had potential, but my grades were dropping.
"It was not easy to beat the addiction, because some of my friends still smoke and sell drugs,” he said.
He had some advice for his peers.
"It is not easy to get off drugs once you are used to them, the best way is to stay clear of them.”
The school’s life orientation teacher, Thobeka Sixhaso, said there were 16 pupils involved in Tada.
"We choose them from different classes. Some are volunteers. It is nice when they volunteer because it shows they want to make a difference,” Sixhaso said.
She said the programme, which was supported by the department of social development, was now in its third year.
"If the pupils cannot help someone, they refer them to the department which has facilities to help people fight their addictions.
"I want the children to make a future for themselves, because there is no future in using drugs – you end up in prison, or dead.
"We want to fight drugs at school and help the community.”
She said parents and teachers should always be observant.
"As teachers we need to learn about drugs so that we are able to identify the symptoms. We would love to get good support from the parents.”