By Sian Wilson
The prospect of university is daunting with the courses which seem impassable, the unfamiliar environment and the independence of adult life which feels almost unreachable. Despite all that, you’ve made it and you are about to embark on one of the biggest journeys of self-discovery in your lifetime.
As a UCKAR first year student, you will find yourself confronted by numerous obstacles in pursuit of your degree, and equally embraced by unique experiences and opportunities. When attending UCKAR from outside of the Makana District, it is important to acknowledge that Grahamstown, like other student towns in the country, is not unfamiliar with drug use and distribution. It could even be considered all too familiar.
The unassuming atmosphere on campus can easily fool you into believing that there could not quite possibly be anything questionable going on behind closed doors. The illusion of student life does not dispute the unparalleled alcohol consumption UCKAR students are renowned for. However, it is nearly impossible to prepare for the first pre-drinks of the year where Ritalin are being passed around like mints to combat alcohol breath. Your new peers who have been studying long enough to justify the line of coke they just did tell you that “poppers also really do the trick”. Peer pressure is rife amongst UCKAR students. Accessibility is not limited and the options boundless with a myriad of prescription pills to choose from, regardless of if you actually need them for what they are prescribed for.
The marijuana culture is not as huge a shock as the country gradually moves towards legalisation. Safura Abdul Karim addresses the long-standing battle for personal and religious use in the article “Understanding Judge Davis’ dope judgment” found on GroundUp. However, regardless of this great leap forward for our country, being caught in possession and attempted distribution of marijuana is still a fierce criminal offense. Such as in the case of as recently as April 10 this year, a marijuana farm outside of Grahamstown with 52 plants, was shut down by SAPS and the offenders arrested and currently awaiting trial.
Knowing what is available to you and the possible side-effects and the consequences that come hand-in-hand with each type of medication, is the first step to knowing how to react in peer pressure situations, or when deciding whether or not taking a Ritalin for a good time or to increase your performance ability is a good idea. Not only should you consider the physical affects of drug use, but also the legal implications. Raids and road check points are emerging as if out of nowhere by SAPS on their crusade to put a stop to mass drug distribution. In consequence, earlier this year on March 30th , suspected dealers were arrested for being in possession of 5.4kg of Ephedrine HCL, used in the process of making Tik, to the value of R250 000 after their car was pulled over and seized.
“Even if you are never caught it is still incredibly difficult to be certain that what you have paid for is what you are getting. The market for drugs in Grahamstown is somewhat insatiable, so everybody tries to sell. This means you may not be getting exactly what you’ve ordered, which could have real implications if you don’t know the difference. These days everything has a little bit of everything else in it, which is terrifying,” admits a UCKAR student who wishes to remain anonymous.
There is no denying that we all have our ‘fix’, nobody is ever as straight-edge as they seem. But our vices should never be at the expense of our functionality, choice and liberty of self.