Drug Addiction


Drug Addiction

“When you can stop you don´t want to, and when you want to stop, you can´t…”

Drug addiction in South Africa is twice the world norm.

bad_trip__by_m_m_fForget everything you thought you knew about drugs. Nothing can prepare you for the havoc caused by Charlie and crystal, hot ice, china white and liquid ecstasy.

It doesn’t matter which drug you try, even if it’s only once – you have to know you’re playing with fire. The stuff you’re smoking, sniffing or shooting up is going to hit your brain with the force of a lightning bolt. And even after you’ve stopped, these drugs may have scorched the delicate tissue of your brain and changed you into a monster, capable of the most horrifying acts of violence. From the height of ecstasy to the depths of hell. As quick as a flash. Then brain damage for the rest of your life.

Drugs keep causing chaos. The Western Cape education Department has raised the alarm bells after drug testing of students during the first half of 2017 revealed truly worrying results. 66.7% of Western Cape school kids tested for drugs, test positive. A total of 360 primary school learners from 36 schools were tested, 229 tested positive. 605 high school learners from 17 school were tested, 415 tested positive. Tests were only conducted on learners who had been previously suspected of drug usage.

Statistics from Dr Antoinette Basson of the Youth Research Unit at UNISA found that 60% of drug addicts in the Western Cape are younger than 20 years old.
In the wake of drug use, one can follow the crimes associated with it. Violent crime in the Western Cape has increased enormously and is attributed to the dramatic rise in the use of TIK (meth). We’re seeing more and more frequently that when people are murdered, they’re not stabbed or shot once or twice, but as many as 60 times.


The crippling damage drugs cause to the brain has remained unseen – until recently.

SPECT stands for single photon emission computerized tomography, a method for imaging the activity of the brain. It shows areas of activity and inactivity. The “holes” in the brain are actually areas that are inactivated by the use of a drug or the practice of some behavior. Abstinence will restore much but not all of the brain function. The more chronic the use, the less restoration of activity. Methamphetamine is more toxic than heroin or cocaine.

“TIK changes the brain chemistry and numbs the moral reaction of users. Killing or raping someone is nothing to them.”

Symptoms of drug abuse

  • sleeplessness
  • loss of appetite or ”munchies”
  • weight loss
  • dilated or constricted pupils
  • blood shot eyes
  • dry mouth, disorientation
  • aggressive behaviour
  • mood swings
  • listlessness
  • secretiveness
  • skin lesions
  • nausea and vomiting
  •  hangovers
  • blackouts
  • hallucinations

Who are more likely to start using drugs

Children are more susceptible to start using drugs if they live in a chaotic home environment, have ineffective parents, are neglected, are inappropriately aggressive, shy, poor school performers, or part of a deviant group among whom drug use is approved. According to the Youth Research Council at UNISA, 60% of drug users in the Western Cape are younger then 20 years old.

Children and teens also tend to make decisions with the Limbic brain, a part of the brain that acted on emotions, feelings, and instinct.  The emotional brain is often seen as responsible for a great deal of the response to stress, acting mostly on instinct instead of logic.  because of their desire to be liked and to be accepted and fit in. This makes them a target for drug dealers. A child who comes from a home where their basic needs are not met, are more prone to start using drugs as a coping or soothing mechanism.

The Neo-cortex is the area of the brain responsible for problem solving, conscious thought, and language. This area in the brain (analytical /thinking mind) is only fully developed by the age of 21- 25 years old. Only then do they start to make decisions based on logic rather than emotions. This is usually the time a young person starts to realize they have a problem quitting drugs.

Signs of possible drug abuse:

· Declining grades/ dropping out of activities
· Use of deodorizers or incense
· Disappearance of valuables and money
· Lying/ hiding things
· Running into trouble at school/ law
· Secretive about friends/ possessions & activities
· Demanding more privacy
· New interest in friends or fads
· Use of eye drops

Get help

You can do a self-test quiz on addiction: Substance Abuse Quiz.

You can chat to a facilitator if you need more help. The Live Chat helpline is a text-based chat that is online every Sunday : 18h00-20h00; Monday- Thursday from 19h00 – 21h00.

The service is free and you may stay anonymous. Click on LIVE CHAT.


You can book counselling sessions with the following therapists:



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