Like millions before her over the years, when Phakamani (she preferred to be identified by her first name only) left home for Johannesburg, she was in search of greener pastures.
But, the grass not being greener on the side, a better life in the City of Gold has proven elusive.
What started as a promising path to a better life has led her to a destiny of doom with illicit drugs taking over her existence.
Peer pressure and stress amid diminishing opportunities have combined to drive her to such a life filled with despair.
ldquoI thought I had it under control but in all honesty, the drugs were taking control of my life,rdquo said a teary Phakamani.
She reminisced how a few years ago, she came armed with a dream-to study at university and subsequently make the most of her youth to better herself and her family.
Everything seemed to be falling in place during the first semester until on a night out with colleagues, she was introduced to cocaine.
That would be the beginning of the woes she is battling to overcome.
ldquoAt first I just took it to get high and for enjoyment purposes,rdquo she said.
ldquoI moved from Auckland Park to Hillbrow in Johannesburg. At first I started acting like I was classier for that area and I was not like most of the people that I associated myself with. Although I could control the drugs, so I thought, in actual fact they were controlling me.rdquo
Phakamani is one of many examples of youth who leave their homes at the lure of better opportunities but find themselves blinded by the cityrsquos bright lights.
Many have been carried away and found the lure of drugs too much too exist, especially in Johannesburg, which has a reputation of druglords who have carved a market from youngsters who are at vulnerable stages of their lives.
Unlike many of her peers who end up homeless and driven to madness, Phakamani, realizing her life was spiraling out of control, checked herself into rehabilitation.
Jo-Ann Walker, a counselor from the Addiction Recovery Centre, said they had treated numerous others in a similar predicament to Phakamanirsquos.
ldquoClientsrsquo ages range from 22 to 40. We admit people from all walks of life, both male and female,rdquo said Walker.
ldquoWe also utilise family structures to stabilise the support systems for post treatment and educate family members on what addiction is about and what recovery entails. We measure our success rate based on our recovery groups that we create in terms of social media.rdquo
According to the Central Drug Authority, the substance abuse rate in South Africa among teenagers is spiraling out of control. The authority believes one in two schoolchildren have already experimented with drugs.
“A study published in the Lancet Medical Journal found that more than 60 percent teenagers aged 18 years regularly drink alcohol.
The youth, in partaking such acts, are oblivious of the impact these actions on others.
ldquoDrugs do not just affect the users but their families, friends, partners and the community at large,rdquo said Walker.
Source : CAJ News Agency