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UKZN Students Give Austerville Youth a Wake-Up Call On Substance Abuse

With the aim of curbing substance abuse among the youth, which often leads to teenage pregnancy and school drop outs, second-year students from UKZN’s School of Nursing held an intervention targeted at the youth in Austerville, south of Durban. The intervention was held at the local Fairvale High School Hall.

The group of 14 students engaged with the young people to alert them to the possible consequences of substance abuse and teenage pregnancy. The youth were made aware that substance abuse and its consequences destroy not only their careers, but hurt their families as well. During their research, the students found that other factors leading to the youth getting involved in substance abuse are peer pressure and poverty. The intervention is part of the UKZN Nursing curriculum and a group project that the students need to complete.

Guest speaker and founder of a rehabilitation programme called Jullo which deals with addiction, depression and stress, Dr Lochan Naidoo, encouraged the youth to be involved in sport so that they stay away from drugs.  Dr Naidoo is the first South African to be appointed to the International Narcotics Board and an internationally recognized addiction medicine professional. He added that drugs and substance abuse cause unnecessary delays in young peoples’ lives, disrupt their education, and cause anxiety, stress and social withdrawal.

Dr Naidoo said that in order for the brain to function perfectly, one needs to exercise, have proper nutrition which includes a good breakfast, learn something new everyday, have a good sleep of at least eight hours and to meditate. He shared with the audience an exercise that they can use to meditate. Among the guests were lecturers from the University and external moderators.

According to the group leader Mr Sanveer Ramnund, the group decided on this topic after a survey was conducted among 40 young people at a particular high school. It was discovered that a lot of the youth within this school and amongst the community were affected by substance abuse. The UKZN students encouraged the youth to remember that they can have fun without alcohol. A number of programmes were lined up for students on the day. These included games, talks on substance abuse, and a talk on teenage pregnancy. A play was performed by the UKZN students which showcased the possible activities that the youth can find themselves involved in when they abuse alcohol. These included unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancies, and rape, with the long term consequences including unemployment and overcrowding in the home

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