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Tik addiction and alcoholism remain the Western Province’s leading problems with substance abuse.
An analysis by the SA Medical Research Council has found that 28 percent of patients admitted to rehab centres around the Western Cape are being treated for alcoholism, while 35 percent have problems with methamphetamine (tik), 18 percent with dagga (61 percent of these are under the age of 21), 13 percent with heroin and 15 percent with a dagga-mandrax combination (white pipe).
Naas Rademeyer, clinical psychologist at the Ramot rehabilitation centre, said men tended to abuse alcohol more than women, but the level of hard drug use was equal for both sexes.
“Younger people use club drugs such as ecstasy, heroin, tik, dagga and mandrax. Alcohol, methamphetamine and dagga with or without mandrax and prescription medication are becoming a major concern in the Western Cape,” Rademeyer said.
Ramot is an alcohol, pill and drug addiction treatment facility in Parow. It is one of two Badisa welfare organisations working to curb drug abuse in the Western Cape.
The other organisation is Toevlug in Worcester.
Rademeyer said Ramot admitted about eight people, aged between 18 and 70, a week.
The latest report by the UN Office for Drugs and Crime said about 200 million people in the world were using illegal substances, including cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogenics and other stimulants.
The report singled out SA as one of the major players in the manufacturing of tik. Before, the drug had been mostly imported.
Drug traffickers were taking advantage of the country’s good infrastructure by making it a transit hub for cocaine shipments destined for Europe, as well as heroin shipments, the report said.
On Sunday, a 46-year-old woman was arrested at Cape Town International Airport after being found carrying 10.5kg of tik with an estimated street value of R3 million. She had arrived on a flight from Joburg with the drugs in her luggage.
Rademeyer said it had been found that most people were using drugs as a way to forget their problems, instead of learning ways to cope.
There were no longer specialised drug squads, unemployed people were turning to crime, drugs and gangsterism, and the ready availability of substances led to experimentation, he said.
“Our legislation is not condemning enough compared to other countries.”
Among the measures that should be implemented to counteract the problem was the introduction at schools of awareness programmes spearheaded by agencies, Rademeyer said.
“It is important parents realise that drug abuse is a harsh reality among all walks of life and children start to abuse drugs from an early age. Parents should educate their children about the dangers and consequences.”