Parents, keep count of your pills

2013-06-29 00:00

PARENTS are being warned to “count” the prescription drugs in their homes to stop teens taking them to get high.

George Baker (53), a former drug addict now working at the Akeso Specialised Psychiatric Clinic in Pietermaritzburg, believes parents need to be more vigilant and monitor the prescription drugs in their homes.

“At the centre we get a lot of people who are addicted to painkillers and sleeping tablets. These affect their short-term memory. They even forget when they took their last pill, leading to accidental overdoses. Other drugs that include codeine are equally addictive, however, it must be taken in large quantities — up to 80 tablets a day. It is a derivative of opium, hence the attraction,” said Baker.

And although he said he knew little of a concept called “pharm parties”, a term coined to describe teenage parties where household drugs are randomly mixed by patrons to become intoxicated, he said the mixing of any drug, including prescription drugs, with alcohol, is a dangerous concoction.

“There is a real danger to teens or any person partaking in this type of reckless behaviour. Besides the threat of sexual abuse, long-term complications to the liver, kidney and blood pressure are realities.”

The SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) released a report last week stating “it is clear drug abuse is on the rise, particularly among youngsters”.

According to Sanca’s Durban director Carol du Toit, it is common for “young people to abuse a variety or combination of chemical substances”, depending on availability.

“Although our younger patients often have a substance of choice, they will often take any substance which they are offered or which is available or affordable.”

On Wednesday, The Witness reported the United Nations drug and crime agency (UNODC) acknowledged that the abuse of prescription drugs and novel psychoactive substances (NPS) is on the rise.

NPS are, according to the UNODC, legal drugs designed to match the effect of existing illegal recreation drugs, modified to varying degrees to evade the drug laws and therefore sold openly.

Recent reports from the SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug use (Sacendu) suggest that cannabis and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs.

South African Medical Research Council chief specialist scientist in the alcohol and drug abuse unit, Bronwyn Meyers, stated that 11% (5,7 million people) of the SA population will suffer from an addiction disorder in their lifetime.

“Add to that the ‘locally formulated’ drug Whoonga, Nyaope (mixture of heroin and dagga) along with the rising use of heroin, cocaine (crack), tik (methamphetamine) and you have a recipe for destruction and early death,” says Vos.

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