Illegal Substance Abuse
Dear Parents and Guardians
Re: Illegal Substance Abuse
As a school, Maritzburg College is fully committed to providing your sons with a safe, nurturing and indeed inspiring environment. We are fully aware of the ongoing threat that substance abuse poses for our boys and the risks that College boys whatever their background may be exposed to. While we as a school strive to do as much as possible to educate all our College boys about the risks that these substances pose, and the severe consequences for them should they succumb to their temptations, we simply must have the support of you as parents in this fight against a most dangerous societal scourge.
In light of this, I need to bring to your immediate attention that the staff and I have for some weeks now been very concerned not only by the poor judgement shown by a minority of College boys, but also the rumoured distribution and use of illegal substances by certain boys. Those of you who have been in the College system for a number of years may recall that we had a similar situation a few years back and we reacted aggressively and positively by involving Harmony Retreat. Gad Avnon [Director], Jarrod Cronje and Hayden Gaines presented to our F2 and F3 in 2015 and 2016 Teen Charter [Mentoring Future Leaders] – ‘Substance Abuse Resource Guide for Students and caregivers’ . The time has come to intervene once again and your support is required.
In the last fortnight, a number of investigations have been pursued by the Senior Deputy Headmaster, Mr K Guise-Brown, and other members of staff, and the most recent outcome on Friday saw three Sixth Formers suspended from the school with immediate effect due to serious breaches of the school’s Code of Conduct involving illegal substances. While teenage experimentation is nothing new, we have been alarmed over the last few weeks by the possible degree of use by certain College boys of what is known as “Xanax”, “Benzo”, “Zannies” or “Blues”. A “fact sheet” on Xanax which is highly addictive is provided below, and I ask you to take the time to read this as well as the excerpt from the Teen Charter regarding the Top 10 Myths [and Truths ] about drugs.
However, while the use of Xanax is at present a particular concern for us, this letter relates to the use and distribution of all illegal substances. Maritzburg College remains committed to assisting any boy who voluntarily comes forward and admits that he has a problem with illegal substances, however, boys who do not voluntarily come forward must expect to face the potential serious consequences. We urge you to speak to your son about the dangers of illegal substances, take a real interest in his behaviour, social interests and circle of friends, and continue to actively guide him towards positive and responsible lifestyle choices. We shall do our very best to do the same. If you do have suspicions or concerns, buy your own test kit from your local pharmacy and test him yourself – help us all by actively taking charge of his behaviour and choices.
Please remember that there are many people at school with whom your son could speak to, including a fully qualified school guidance counsellor who is resident and literally available 24/7.
C J Luman
Anxiolytic Fact Sheet: Xanax, Benzos, Zannies, Blues
- It is a Schedule 5 drug used as a tranquiliser and can only be obtained legitimately by prescription.
- It acts as a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant.
- It relieves anxiety and sedates/induces sleep, and produces a pleasant, calm feeling.
- It is prescribed by doctors to treat Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (“depression”), and its often resulting anxiety.
- It is highly addictive and continuous use can very easily lead to dependence. Tolerance to the initial dosage can develop quickly and soon the user requires more of the medication to achieve the same result, also risking the occurrence of an overdose.
- It is available in different dosages. The higher the dosage, the stronger the withdrawal symptoms
- Symptoms of over-dosage include slurred speech, increased anxiety levels, insomnia, an inability to function normally, loss of co-ordination, obsessive drug seeking behaviour, irresponsibility toward normal duties, and loss of control over quantities of the drug being ingested.
- The effects of the drug are felt within an hour or two and remain in the body from 2 to 30 hours, depending on the strength of the drug taken. Some anxiolytics are short-acting and some are slow release
- During withdrawal symptoms vary but can include convulsions.
One of the biggest problems with teens is that they almost always have faulty information about drugs. Kids tend to believe what they hear from other teens, especially the “hype” about the upside of doing drugs. The truth is: there is no upside to using drugs. Here are the top 10 popular myths teens tend to believe about drugs – and the truth behind each one:
- Myth – Marijuana is harmless.
TRUTH – Marijuana smokers risk the same health problems as tobacco smokers: bronchitis, emphysema, and bronchial asthma. They also experience lack of coordination, memory problems, and poor concentration.
- Myth – Using drugs doesn’t change the brain.
TRUTH – Drugs change the brain, and this can lead to abuse, addiction, and other very serious physical and neurological (mind) problems.
- Myth – Legal drugs are helpful illegal drugs are harmful.
TRUTH -It doesn’t matter whether a drug is legal or illegal because all drugs can be abused. Even if a regulated drug is considered “safe,” misuse and abuse of this drug can still have harmful effects.
- Myth – Parents don’t have any influence over a teen’s use of marijuana.
TRUTH – Marijuana use occurs less often among teens who think their parents would strongly disapprove of their trying marijuana. Parents who set strong boundaries are more likely to have a positive influence.
- Myth – Using drugs is a normal part of growing up and experimentation is harmless.
TRUTH – The majority of teens reject drugs. Not everyone is doing it. Experimentation can lead to use and further abuse and addiction. Every addict started as an experimental user once.
- Myth – You can’t overdose on prescription drugs to get high the first time.
TRUTH – You can overdose on any drug even the first time you use it.
- Myth – Most of my Grade 8 mates have abused inhalants.
TRUTH – According to our survey, almost 92 percent of Grade 8’s reported NOT using inhalants in the past year.
- Myth – Everybody is doing it!
TRUTH – Not “everybody” is doing it. In fact, most teens are not doing drugs. Those who do drugs do so infrequently at parties or on occasion. Most teens do not drink or do drugs regularly.
- Myth – It can’t hurt to try it just once.
TRUTH -It can hurt to try drugs. You may do something you regret while under the influence, you may get violent or become the victim of violence, you could get very sick and, in extreme cases, you may even die.
- Myth – Drug use is voluntary …I can quit whenever I want!
TRUTH – It’s true that drug use is a choice at first, but over time, it alters the chemistry of the brain and body, resulting in a compulsive and uncontrollable need for the drug. Addiction is a serious side effects of drug abuse