Substance use amongst the youth is a growing concern in Botswana.

Substances such as nicotine, alcohol, inhalants, and marijuana are amongst a few that youth experiment on or use.

For some youth this becomes a habit they can break, while for many this becomes a debilitating disease that affects their education, work, physical, and mental health; and relationships with loved ones. Intervention at an early age is critical for preventing substance use, abuse, and dependency amongst the youth.

To intervene early, you have to know the warning signs that include, but are not limited to:

Physical warning signs

  • Bloodshot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
  •  Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
  • Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits.
  • Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing.
  • Tremors, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.

Behavioural signs of drug abuse

  • Drop in attendance and performance at work or school.
  • Unexplained need for money or financial problems; including borrowing or stealing to get it.
  • Money and valuables missing from the home, purse etc.
  • Change in friends and not introducing the new friends.
  • Change in favourite hangouts and hobbies.
  • Frequently getting into trouble (fights, accidents, illegal activities).


Psychological warning signs of drug abuse

  • Unexplained change in personality or attitude.
  • Sudden mood swings, irritability, or angry outbursts.
  • Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Appears fearful, anxious, or paranoid, without reason.


Not everyone who is showing these warning signs is using substances, but they are indicators that something is wrong. If you are a parent, guardian, teacher or anybody working with the youth, don’t ignore these warning signs; intervene early by reaching out to the young person or directing them where they can get support.


If you think that you or someone you know may have a problem with alcohol or other substances, please contact BOSASNet on 395 9119 or 72659891 to speak to a counsellor.

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