KEEP CALM: Think about your ‘party groove’

Partying is fun for people of all ages, but especially for ‘teenagers’.  This may include clubbing, attending a concert or festival, going to recreational parks with braai areas (e.g. paaltjies), hosting a house party or attending one at a friend’s house.

More often than not, there will be smoking of tobacco products and drinking involved – such as alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, ciders, shooters, wine and spirits).  A study found that more than half (53.5%) of the youth in Namibia use alcohol (Strijdom & Angell, 1998).  Hubbly bubbly or ‘hookah pipe’ has become the norm at teenage parties; this habit has been associated with many dangers, adults have reported serious concerns and research or news articles on this topic has been on the increase.  One of the worrying factors of the ‘hookah pipe’ is that it serves as a gateway to smoking more harmful drugs such as marijuana or other illicit drugs.

Although partying allows one to relax, have fun and fit in with the crowd; it is important to do this responsibly.  Some of the things that can go wrong at teenage parties and clubs include binge drinking, drunk driving, unprotected sex, drug overdose, drink spiking, sexual assault/rape, gate-crashing, fighting, getting arrested, injury or even death.

Here are some ways drug and alcohol use can harm your life, and how to prevent this from happening:

Emotional problems: Drug abuse can cause or mask psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia.  Teens that use marijuana weekly double their risk of depression and anxiety (The Effects of Drug Abuse on Teens, 2009).

Brain damage: Drug abuse among teens can result in serious mental disorders or permanent, irreversible damage to the brain or nervous system (such as brain shrinkage; impaired learning abilities and memory problems).

The best way to avoid drug-related problems is not to use it at all.  Marijuana and most illicit drugs are addictive; drug addiction is a major concern amongst Namibian youth.  Remember that you don’t have to use alcohol or other drugs to have fun.  Instead try playing board games or charades, going to the movies or playing competitive videogames.

Ask for non-alcoholic cocktails at restaurants.  They are tastier and contain similar ingredients to an alcoholic cocktail, although the alcohol is removed.    

Don’t allow peer pressure to sway you into doing anything you don’t want to do.  Stand firm in your beliefs and principles and say no.

  You are responsible to protect your body and mind.

Enjoy partying responsibly – you’ll thank yourself for the effort later. • Compiled by: Samantha Feris

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