Stop using Incika

2019-04-10 06:01
PHOTO: suppliedMedical doctor Yolanda Ngobese.

PHOTO: suppliedMedical doctor Yolanda Ngobese.

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“DRINKING the home-made mix called Incika can affect the functioning of your liver in the long run.”

This is according to Dr Yolanda Ngobese who is a medical doctor at the Greater Edendale Mall.

The drug is made up of cough syrup that contains codeine mixed with a cold drink.

It has fast become a trend among high schools pupils and in the townships.

Last month, more than 100 bottles of cough mixture were found at Market Square during a clean-up campaign conducted by the Msunduzi Municipality together with Cogta. Some of the cough mixtures were already mixed with the cold drink.

Pupils who attend around town were also found in the area and some had already taken off their uniforms. They [pupils] were then taken to Pietermaritzburg Police Station and their parents and teachers were called to fetch them.

Dr Ngobese said codeine works as a painkiller and it can be very dangerous if it is taken in large doses.

“The codeine gives you a high, drowsy feeling, and I think that is how it [the drug use] started, after someone discovered that. We have heard that it’s mixed with a cold drink and it has become a trend mostly in high schools.

“When it [the trend] first started it was very easy to access the cough syrups at pharmacies, which was not supposed to be because there are certain medications that you cannot access without a doctor’s prescription. But as soon as this trend was revealed, some pharmacies started to reinforce the laws. You are supposed to have your ID and prescription to buy these cough syrups,” she said.

She said the problem with the high that people feel is that eventually the feeling will go away and they will want to feel it again and so it becomes addictive.

“Most of the time, children use this drug just to escape from reality due to the problems they are having at home or past traumas.

“They want to feel high and not think about their problems.”

She said from a medical perspective, the purpose of these kinds of medication is to help people get better and relieve their pain.

However, she said they have now become very strict with the kind of medication that they give out.

“We have now reduced orders of the medications that contains codeine because we are trying to avoid the problem of it being used for something else.”

She said there is also a tablet which is good for pain but it also has codeine in and people have picked up on this fact.

“Due to that, we now do not just prescribe that pill for anyone.

“If a child says a parent has sent them we demand to see the parent because we are trying to prevent them from using it as a drug. Children have their own way of getting things but on our side we are trying as much as possible to be strict with these kinds of medication.

“The problem is that these things end up affecting your organs, especially your liver. The liver is where you process medications. The medications are broken down in the liver so that they can work properly. If you are overworking your liver by taking the medication in high doses, it damages the liver and becomes a problem in the long run.

“You may have a liver but it will not function properly. You may have problems like high blood pressure and you will be forced to take medication but because your liver is not functioning properly, the medication will not work properly.”

Dr Ngobese said this is a problem from both a social and health perspective because people who drink this home-made drug find it difficult to keep up with their work.

One parent said her child was addicted to Incika and she was forced to take him out of school.

Speaking to Echo, she said her son was 16 years old and in Grade 12 when he started using the drug.

“I knew about Incika from the stories that I heard from the street but I never thought that my son was using it until I found an empty bottle of cough syrup in his school bag.

“I had noticed the changes in his behaviour but when I confronted him he would deny it.

“After he started using this drug in 2017, he started being a problem. He would skip classes or not go to school. He even started stealing from the house when he wanted his fix and that is when I realised that he had become an addict,” she said.

She said she had to stop him from attending school until he got back his senses and stopped using the drug.

“I tried to talk to him many times, to try to make him understand that what he was doing was wrong but he wouldn’t listen.

“One day I noticed a change in his behaviour and when I asked him about it he said he was quitting the drug.

“He is now clean and he has gone back to finish his matric this year,” she said.

Department of Social Development spokesperson Ncumisa Ndelu said they are aware of the drug and they are encouraging everyone who is using it to stop while it is still early.

“The problem with any drug substance is that no good is going to come of it.

“Once you stop feeling high as you used to, you will starting wanting more and want something stronger.

“You will end up using more dangerous drugs and it will be so difficult for you to stop. We encourage people to stop while they are still in the early stage,” she said.

Ndelu said the department, hasdifferent programmes set up to fight drugs, especially among the youth. She said they also visit schools to give talks about the impact of using drugs.

Sfiso Mavundla who is the Community Policing Forum chairperson at Plessislaer, said they want to fight the drug before it becomes a problem.

He said they recently found children who were drinking it at Imbali Unit 13 and they are trying to get to the bottom of the situation.

“We want to get to the core of it. We want to know who is selling the cough mixture to the children — that is the only way we will be able fight this.

“We want those who are killing our children by selling them the cough mixture to face the law,” he said.

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