Parents urged to rally behind the fight against drug abuse

2019-06-26 06:01

THE South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) Drug Awareness Week runs from June 25 to June 30.

Attempts have been made to eradicate drug abuse and find a solution to stop the increasing number of young people abusing drugs and alcohol.

According to Warrant Officer Pius Mnyandu from Greytown SAPS, numerous drug-related arrests have been made in the Greytown area in the past.

“When we arrest the children [suspects] we contact the probation officer and the parents. The matter goes to court. We confiscate the substance and thereafter destroy it. Members of the SAPS conduct various awareness programmes in schools to educate the pupils about substance abuse.

“At a recent meeting held at Nhlalakahle, we called on all drugs addicts to come forward. We also held an educational indaba in one of the high schools in the Ngome area. With these programmes, we aim to eradicate substance abuse in Greytown.

“Whoonga is a big concern to our community,” he said.

Sanca said heroin is regarded as one of the most dangerous drugs available to the youth because it is highly addictive and has devastating and long-lasting effects on those who use it.

Sanca director Futhi Ntshangase said: “Whoonga contains low grade heroin mixed with other substances. In its pure form, heroin is a white powder made by treating morphine (a powerful painkiller available only through a medical prescription) with other chemicals. Heroin is usually injected directly into a vein while whoonga is smoked.”

According to Sanca, heroin produces feelings of relaxation and intense euphoria.

“These effects are not long-lasting and the user has to frequently take the drug to maintain these feelings.

“After a fairly short period of time, users may become dependent on the drug. This means that they need regular doses of heroin in order to satisfy cravings and to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

“With heroin, withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea and vomiting, chills, convulsions, stomach cramps, muscular aches and pains and hallucinations. To relieve these symptoms, addicts will use the drug, thus finding themselves trapped in a vicious cycle.”

Whoonga also contains other substances that may vary from sample to sample. It is believed that dagga and rat poison are common additions. The strychnine in rat poison causes excruciating pain when the pain-killing effects of the heroin has worn off and the user will smoke more whoonga to relieve this pain. It seems that drug dealers deliberately add rat poison to the heroin for this effect.

Violence and aggression are also linked to heroin misuse.

Although the drug in the form of whoonga is of low quality and therefore relatively cheap, addicts may commit crime in order to obtain money to buy the drug.

Sanca said that, once addicted to heroin, it is difficult for a person to quit but, with proper treatment and support, it is possible to beat the drug.

Siyabonga Mbala from Harmony Retreat — a rehabilitation centre based in Greytown — said the organisation was established in 1993 with a view to provide medium- and long-term rehabilitation to those suffering from drugs and alcohol addiction.

Mbala said the organisation conducts outreach programmes, adding: “We offer individual counselling, group sessions and training workshops, physical development, and spiritual development.”

SOME TIPS FOR PARENTS WHO SUSPECT THEIR CHILD MAY HAVE A DRUG PROBLEM:

> Do not ignore the problem hoping that it will go away

> Confront your child with a list of evidence you have gathered which indicates that he/she is using drugs

> Do not make threats, get hysterical or lose your temper. Rather, discuss the situation calmly from a position of love and concern

> If your child admits to using, insist that he/she stops immediately. If they find it difficult to stop, seek professional help eg. contact a Sanca Alcohol and Drug Centre.

> If they deny using drugs, tell them that you expect a change in their behaviour

> Both parents, even if divorced, need to adopt a united approach in dealing with the issue

> Find support — talk to a doctor, religious leader or social worker who is knowledgeable about drug abuse

> Remember that drug abuse is not a symptom of a poor upbringing. It can happen in any family.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DRUG USE:

> A drop-in school marks

> Losing interest in matters previously important (like school, sport and hobbies)

> Neglect of personal appearance and hygiene

> Sudden change in appetite or an unexplained change in weight

> Unpredictable behaviour

> Secretive behaviour and lying

> Losing old friends and hanging out with a new crowd

> A deterioration in health

> Reddening of the eyes, using eyedrops often and wearing dark glasses indoors or at night

> Selling belongings and stealing.

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