Peer pressure and a lack of self-esteem often result in young people succumbing to social ills like drugs and gangsterism.
And that, says Nophumelelo Mkosi, is how she became a drug addict.
The 27-year-old mother of two shared her awful life experience with a group of young people from Gugulethu and surrounding areas on Thursday July 13, at an event hosted by God Word of Life Ministry and various other organisations at Luyolo Hall.
Its aim was to discourage young people from being lured into drugs and identify those who were using them and provide them with help.
Ms Mkosi narrated how she got into drugs, alcohol and ended up serving time at Pollsmoor prison, noting that drugs had robbed her of the opportunity to fulfil her dreams and desires.
She added that she had made the life of her family, particularly her supportive mother, miserable.
Ignoring the advice dispensed to her and having bunked many classes, Ms Mkosi failed matric in 2007 and eventually ended up living on the streets of Gugulethu.
Recalling why she started using drugs, she highlights peer pressure and a lack of a sense of identity as the key causes.
She said she started drugs because of peer pressure and lack of identity.
“I was arrested when I was caught with my boyfriend shoplifting. I wanted to be a lawyer or a musician but because I was using drugs I could not fulfil my dreams.
“But I’m glad that I managed to recover even though it was not an easy journey,” she said.
“Young people should be mindful of who they associate themselves with. Drugs turned me into a dirty and unwanted thing.
“My role now is to educate and inspire others not to follow in my footsteps,” she said.
Ms Mkosi said her drug of choice had been tik but she would use anything that she could get just to get high.
But, she said, the happiness she found through drugs, was false and eventually she found she wanted to get high all the time.
As a result, she started stealing from her family to fund her drug habit.
Ms Mkosi said the first step to recovery was to accept that one had a drug addiction problem. But for many people, like herself, this was easier said than done.
It was in 2014 that she entered a nine-month drug rehabilitation programme and has since vowed to use her own experience to help others who are in similar situations to the one she once found herself in.
Reverend Vuyani Buwe of Word of God Ministry, said the harsh reality was that young people often started using drugs because they didn’t have access to proper support or advice.
He said the role of the church was not only to preach the word of God but also to make a meaningful contribution to society.
Sisiwe Ngeza, a social worker at Realistic, an NGO which provides support and advice to drug users and their families, said the organisation had programmes aimed at derailing young people from doing drugs and joining gangs.