Pubdate: Sun, 22 May 2005
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2005 Cape Argus.
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The increasing abuse of tik means that outpatient treatment programmes
are urgently needed, says a community worker specialising in substance
abuse campaigns.

Sarah Fisher says lack of funds mean people who do not have medical
aid must depend on scarce government-run facilities.

"There are long queues and there are very few services aimed at the

"Outpatient programmes are less disruptive and less costly than
residential centres. We need to get them going. This has hit us like a
ton of bricks and we weren't prepared. It's desperate, I don't know
what to do anymore. All I can do is refer them to community support

Fisher used to run the drug awareness programme Bridges, aimed at high
school children. But Bridges became a victim of its own success, and
was overwhelmed by the need.

"About 18 months ago, when tik started making an appearance, it became
problematic because people recognised they had problems and asked for
help - but fell into this black hole," said Fisher.

Bridges has since folded and Fisher is now helping to set up a drug
action committee in the Helderberg.

"We've got to get away from the thought that tik is only on the Cape
Flats. It's everywhere. And while people of all ages use it, the
number of young people seeking help is increasing."

Rodger Meyer of the Kenilworth Clinic's addiction treatment programme
said crystal methamphetamine or tik was perceived as a recreational
drug which didn't carry the same stigma as heroin, crack or cocaine.

"Youngsters in the drug-using sub-culture in Cape Town don't feel
particularly intimidated by using tik. It's quite seductive. It's a
stimulant with euphoria-producing effects and the need to repeat the
behaviour is quite high. As you're coming down, there's a sense that
you want to repeat the experience."

"The give-away is always the change in behaviour," said

Aggression was seen when people had been abusing the substance for
some time. Toxic overdoses were possible.

"Overdosing induces psychotic behaviour characterised by marked
aggression and lowered frustration tolerance," he said.


Rodger Meyer says much of the risk of tik is related to the effects of
intoxication such as:

Lowered inhibitions leading to risky behaviour including high-risk

Less responsible behaviour.

Loss of interest in schoolwork, family, self-preservation.

Resorting to minor crime to finance the habit. 
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