The use of drugs is as old as human history and for centuries people have been
engaged in fruitless attempts to combat drug abuse. Efforts aimed at attaining a
drug-free world is a continuous battle that seems to be destined for failure. Dagga
is the drug most commonly used globally and locally. The problem with dagga
specifically, is that many young people perceive it as a socially acceptable drug and
knowledge of accompanying risks is limited. Moreover, intervention strategies do
not take these perceptions and myths into account.
No recent local research providing an account of adolescents perceptions of dagga
was found to exist, yet many intervention strategies and campaigns are launched
and large amounts of money are spent on anti-drug campaigns. In order to plan
intervention strategies relating to changing policies and adapting intervention
strategies, it is necessary to understand the perceptions of adolescents regarding
the implications of dagga use.
Young people are the future policy makers and by including them in the process,
prospective victory in the war against drugs could be attained by adopting a different
frame of reference. The person-centred approach was thus chosen as the
appropriate theory because it postulates that in order to bring about change, the
perceptions and frame of reference of people must be taken into account.
The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of adolescent boys
regarding the implications of dagga use. Purposive sampling was employed to
select ten participants between the ages of 16 and 18, who attend a high school in
Pretoria. An interview schedule was used to guide the process of data collection
through one-on-one semi-structured interviews. The findings of the study suggested that adolescent boys base their knowledge of
dagga on experiential learning and modelling by peers rather than information
obtained from parents, teachers and other professionals. Dagga use was seen by
adolescents as a safe and socially acceptable means to relax and to socialise.
Participants viewed dagga use as an isolated occurrence that did not have a
significant effect on their micro-, meso-, or exosystems. The participants
acknowledged that dagga use had negative effects on the family. However, they
believed that the effects are exaggerated because adults have limited knowledge
The significance of the findings lay in the fact that current interventions and
educational campaigns regarding dagga have had little to no effect on adolescents
perceptions so far. In order to plan effective intervention strategies, adolescents
perceptions must be considered. Young people must also be included in the
planning and evaluation of such interventions.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.