Psychology and Wellness centre Living a Balanced Life Tel: 011 463-1211 Fax: 086 551-2265 Cell: 071 335-4847 firstname.lastname@example.org www.pawc.co.za Ho, Ho, Ho - Christmas holidays, sex, drugs and alcohol! By Charine Glen-Spyron, Clinical Psychologist It’s the end of the year and everybody is looking forward to a long sunny holiday. Some of you may be going to another country or another city, and some of you might be staying at home. Nevertheless, you most likely have already started planning your activities for the holidays. These plans may include spending time with family, partying with friends, and even looking for a holiday fling. You are most likely super excited for school to end, and rightfully so, it has been a long year of hard work and studying. Before you kick off your shoes, pack your bags, and grab your fanciest swimming gear, just take a quick pause to think about what else awaits you this holiday. Jip, you are right, with the parties often come booze, drugs and of course sex. I am sure most of you are well aware of the dangers of all of the above, but hey, it wouldn’t hurt just to remind yourself what happened to “Cliff” last year after finishing off a bottle of vodka, or “Gail” who ended up with her first baby in September following that “awesome” one night with the guy whose name she can’t remember.....or “Tsepo” who smoked super weed that turned out not to be weed at all, but some homemade concoction with poisonous leaves. Keeping it sweet and short, let us remember the top 3 reasons why we should be responsible when it comes to sex, drugs and alcohol 1) Using alcohol and drugs leads to a decreased in your ability to make the right decisions. Like whether to run naked around the club, having sex with the unknown but hot guy on New Year’s Eve, driving under the influence and spending the night in jail. Oh, and for those of you who don’t know, over the Christmas holidays, you might not get bail the same day, meaning you may spend more than one night on a concrete floor. 2) Street drugs are often not “what you see is what you get”. That “friendly” drug dealer in the club is better at selling his product than most second hand car sales men. He will tell you that you are buying the best dope you will ever smoke, or the purest cocaine, while he has cut it with all sorts of “enhancers”. And these often include Mandrax, Rattex, home cleaning products and even battery acid. And you can just imagine what those chemicals can do to your body and even worse, your brain. Taking some of those would have the same impact killing off your brain cells as hitting your head against a brick wall a few hundred times.....it’s hard to imagine anyone doing that out of their own free will! 3) Last but not least, sex. Given that as teenagers, it is already hard to control raging hormones, the influence of a few sips of alcohol, the holiday vibe, and all those beautiful people on the beach does not make things easier. But hang on to those panties and briefs just a little bit longer. Issues of morality and religion aside, apart from falling pregnant and spending the next 18 years raising a child as a single parent, one good medical reason why this issue is important is that risky sexual behaviours increase the likelihood of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Even nonfatal STI's, such as Chlamydia, are associated with adverse outcomes including problematic pregnancies and infertility. Human papilloma virus, the virus that causes genital warts, has been associated with the development of cervical cancer. Not forgetting contracting hard-core sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) like Syphilis, Gonorrhoea and of course HIV! So what is risky sexual behaviour? The most widely used definition is according to the behaviour itself: unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. To conclude, my message to you this holiday: Enjoy being young and beautiful and have as much fun as possible, but remember to love yourself enough to keep yourself safe. Merry Christmas and have an awesome holiday!