WHILE many parents think their children are at school, they are off getting high.
Dozens of children in Vanderbijlpark, south of Joburg, have discovered an old but potent drink.
Every day after school, especially on Fridays, they gather at a parking lot in town to take drugs.
They drink a popular self-made drink called lean.
After drinking lean they lie on their backs, their speech slurs and they lurch about as if they are drunk.
When are finished the parking lot is riddled with bottles of cold drink and cough mixture. They also get high on zol.
One pupil (15) said she loved lean because it made her feel calm.
“There is nothing like it to make you relax after a long school day,” she said.
Another pupil (14) said he hated people’s perceptions of the drink.
“It’s not like we’re smoking nyaope or stealing.”
Sharpeville artist and activist Modisana Mabale said: “This has become a problem as young people engage in sexual activities after drinking it.”
Modisana is using performance art to raise awareness about the problem of codeine abuse.
“I interact with young people not on the basis of judgement, but by creatively engaging with them about the causes for their addiction.”
Codeine is used to relieve mild to moderate pain and coughing. It is most commonly abused for its calming effects. Although it’s not as addictive as other opiates, codeine is still dangerous.
Some signs of codeine abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Short attention span
- Impaired judgement
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of co-ordination
Dangers of codeine abuse
As a depressant, codeine slows a person’s breaths per minute. In large doses it can cause a person to stop breathing and can be potentially fatal. A codeine overdose includes seizures and coma.