Don't expel drug users from schools, help them instead

During Drug Awareness Week, which runs from 24-28 June, Hope House Counselling Centre is creating awareness around the repercussions of substance abuse among youth. 

The Cape Town based non-profit organisation runs prevention and intervention programmes at primary and high schools. 

What do drugs do to our children's brains?

“Studies have found that drug and alcohol use damages children’s growing brains; sometimes permanently. Many drugs effect an area called the pre-frontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making, social behaviour and learning,” says Judy Strickland, a child counsellor and the founder of Hope House.

According to the counselling centre, in order to understand the lasting consequences of drug use, parents, teachers and learners need to know about the severe after-effects that substances have on the brain.

“Decision-making, a crucial part of psychological development, success at school, and making healthy choices in youth and adulthood, is compromised through drug and alcohol use,” says Strickland.  

Why expelling kids is not the solution

Contributing to the problem is that many children who test positive for drug use are suspended from school; these students are sent back home, and this is often where they are exposed to substances.

Positive intervention, through a school run programme, is more likely to have long-term impact on vulnerable youth,” says Strickland.
 
“Many learners live in highly stressful circumstances in which they are routinely exposed to alcohol, dagga and other drugs. In some communities, the need to intervene is not just in the individual’s life, but also the lives of their families too.”

What positive intervention at schools involve

Hope House runs a 16-week intervention programme with at-risk learners to teach them about the effects of drugs on their brains and bodies.

They are taught skills to resist starting drug use, coping mechanisms to help them stop using drugs, and how to recognise triggers.

The programme includes one-on-one counselling sessions and group workshops. Hope House also runs a Strengthening Families programme in communities known to have high levels of substance use.

Press release supplied by Be-Cause on behalf of Hope House. Concerned parents and schools can contact Hope House on 084 580 7298 or visit their website at www.hopehouse.org.za.

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