Battling drug abuse in SA

2019-07-03 06:00

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

In speaking on local issues, 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.”

Although whoonga is of low quality and therefore relatively cheap, addicts may commit crime in order to fund their addiction.

Once addicted to heroin, Sanca says it is difficult for a person to quit but, with proper treatment and support, it is possible.

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 drug and alcohol addiction. The organisation conducts outreach programmes as well as individual counselling, group sessions and training workshops, physical development, and spiritual development.

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

> 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.

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