Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 2004
Source: Pretoria News, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 The Pretoria News
Author: Angela Bolowana
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Youth)


Co-operation between schools and drug rehabilitation centres has sharply 
pushed up the number of teenagers in rehab in the last five years.

Increasingly, schools are sending pupils suspected of drug abuse to 
rehabilitation centres as a way of dealing with misconduct on school premises.

Andreas Pluddemann of the Medical Research Council's Alcohol and Drug Abuse 
Research Group said one in four patients in rehabilitation were people aged 
between 13 and 20.

Of the 2 500 youngsters who go to the 50 country-wide centres, which supply 
the MRC with data, an average of 10% had been referred to the centres by 
schools. The youngsters also often used alcohol.

The unit works with rehabilitation centres in Pretoria, Durban, Mpumalanga, 
Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth. Heroin, mandrax and dagga were most commonly 
used, with 60% of all youth cases involving dagga.

"The rise is because of increasing drug use but also because rehab centres 
are youth-oriented and because of schools (referring to pupils)," he said.

According to the Schools Act, "very serious misconduct or very serious 
violations of school codes and criminal acts which not only violate school 
codes but which breach the law respectively" are punishable by "referral of 
learner to an outside agency for counselling; application to the provincial 
department for limited suspension from all school activities".

As a result, alcohol and drug use in school can lead to a referral for 
counselling before a recommendation for expulsion is forwarded to the 
education department.

Clare Savage of the South African National Council on Drug Dependency and 
Alcoholism (Sanca) said they had seen a similar pattern.

"It's a combination of two things: schools functioning more effectively, 
being more aware and opting for treatment rather than expulsion."

But, she warned, it also means there are more drug problems.

She said that often schools only become aware of a drug problem at an 
advanced stage. "By the time it's presented at school it's not new. The 
first experience is not likely to be at school," she said.

Diane Gammie, a trustee on the Governing Bodies Foundation, said schools 
were becoming creative in dealing with alcohol and drugs and were exploring 
counselling and treatment instead of expulsion. 
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