Drug Addiction

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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, tested 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 supplied Dr Antoinette Basson of the Youth Research Unit at UNISA in 2017 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.

Drugs are everywhere, it is not just the Western Cape that has a problem. Schools on the East Rand of Gauteng  also say their schools are flooded with drugs. Learners have no specific preference – they use anything that is available. For example during  a recent raid at a East rand school many bottles ”cough syrup” (sizzrup) were confiscated from learners which they drink to stay ”high” during the whole school day. Apparently Nigerian drug dealers park cars that has ”for sale” written on the car near schools. The ”for sale” sign means they have drugs for sale. It is believed that there are even educators who are part of business of dealing drugs to learners. This is a scary scenario for all parents who have children in schools. You need to know why learners are so easily persuaded to use drugs. You need to know how to prepare your kids for being confronted with drugs and how to say no. You also need to know the signs of possible drug use in your child and what to do.


spect-2

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.


How can you tell if your kid is possibly using drugs?

· 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


It’s the conversation that no parent wants to have. Confronting a child about a possible substance problem is a tall order for even the strongest among us. Here’s what to do if your child is using drugs.


Remain Calm

Substance abuse can tear families apart. Addressing a serious drug or alcohol abuse issue within the family puts parents to the test as much as anything ever will. But it’s important that, above all else, you remain calm. If you suspect there’s an underlying substance abuse issue with your teen, it’s not the end of the world.
No matter what, this is still your child; how you react can mean all the difference in their recovery.

  • Respond with love.
  • Don’t blame yourself.
  • Determine what needs to be done.
  • You are not alone.

Talk to Them

Talk to your kid about their choices

The subject matter is extremely delicate, and teenagers with a substance habit are already in a fragile state. Don’t assume you know everything that they’re going through and struggling with. It’s okay that you don’t inherently “get them.” Just always keep lines of communication open so that it’s constantly reinforced that you’re someone they can trust and come to with anything they’re going through.
When you decide to start talking to your children about drugs, remember that there’s a huge difference between confronting addiction versus having a conversation about it. Avoid confrontations at all costs.
Psychologists often recommend that the best approach to getting a teenager to open up about the topic is to ask them about their friends. By finding out what they think about friends who are using or getting in trouble for using, you may gain insight into how they feel about the topic.
Don’t act on pure emotion. Don’t judge them. But understand that where the conversation goes will likely determine your next steps.


How To Tell If Your Teenager Is Using Drugs

Your teenager goes through changes that are a normal part of adolescence. But some changes are windows into more sinister things — like experimentation with drugs or alcohol.
Take note of obvious changes to their behavior, appearance and overall health. Be aware of the major signs of substance abuse. Look for alcohol or drug paraphernalia (physical evidence) in their room, their laundry, their school supplies or around the house. Some teens are better than others at keeping their habits a secret and covering up their symptoms. It’s up to you to be diligent in your observations, without jumping to many conclusions.


Don’t Do This Yourself

You’re not a superhero. Nobody expects you to be. As signs start to build, reach out for help in the matter. Assuming you can help your teenager by yourself can be overwhelming in situations like these, and can set you — and more importantly, your teen — up for failure. Realize you are not alone, and the challenges ahead can start to appear more and more conquerable.

Help can be in the form of:

  • Immediate family
  • Family friends
  • Your child’s friends
  • Teachers or school counselors
  • Doctors
  • Intervention specialists

Building a support network will help you keep a level head, get various perspectives on the situation and make the best decision for moving forward.


Don’t Enable Them

Often, parents of teens wrapped up in substance abuse slip into enabling. This is when the detrimental behavior is implicitly accepted and allowed to continue because a parent is in denial of the circumstances their teen finds themselves in.
Enabling looks like this:

  • Ignoring the addict’s negative or potentially dangerous behavior
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Prioritizing the addict’s needs before her own
  • Acting out of fear
  • Lying to others to cover the addict’s behavior
  • Blaming people or situations other than the addict
  • Resenting the addict

Does My Teen Need to See a Professional?

If you notice signs of substance use in your teen, contact a professional right away. The longer that substance abuse is allowed to take place, the more difficult it becomes for your teen to kick the habit. Your family doctor can screen your child and determine whether they’re simply experimenting or a suffering from a substance use disorder. Teens with mild substance issues can often recover through outpatient treatment, but deeply-rooted substance use disorders usually require inpatient rehab treatment.
When you’re considering which treatment option would be best, be sure to talk to a professional who is well-versed in addiction recovery.
Take the first step towards recovery for your child. This call could change the course of your teen’s life. Don’t wait.





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.


Counselling

You can book counselling sessions with the following therapists:

Therapists



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