Pubdate: Mon, 30 May 2005
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2005 Cape Argus.
Author: Di Caelers
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Tik has taken off faster in some Cape Flats communities than anywhere
else in the world.

It is responsible for the fastest addiction rates on the Flats,
especially in gang-infested communities such as Mitchell's Plain,
Hanover Park, Manenberg, Elsies River and Retreat, where it has
surpassed Mandrax as the drug of choice.

Andreas Pluddemann, senior scientist at the Medical Research Council,
says that nowhere else in the world has tik taken off the way it has
in these communities.

Pluddemann, interviewed in the University of Cape Town's Monday Paper,
said tik was potent and easy to make.

First made in Japan in 1919, it is still produced legally in

United States in the guise of medication prescribed for weight loss,
as a nasal inhalant, and even for narcolepsy and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorders.

For his doctoral thesis, Pluddemann is designing a study on tik users,
documenting the effects of the drug on addicts' mental health and behaviour.

Tik, the article says, gives adolescents what they often don't have:
confidence, power and heightened sexual levels, the feeling of being
on top of the world, especially if that world is ordinarily dominated
by gangsterism, unemployment and poverty.

Tik mainly affects dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and
reward, and is thus highly addictive.

It is one of the most psychologically addictive drugs

"The drug is like a companion telling you that you're good enough,
handsome enough, smart enough, banishing all the little insecurities
in your subconscious," according to a journalist writing about his
experiences with tik in Asia in the Monday Paper.

"It's a special problem," Pluddemann is quoted as saying.

"Adolescents, the 12-to-19-year-olds, react very severely to tik. The
fallout is serious."

By over-exciting the central nervous system, it makes users feel
paranoid, fearful and anxious, reporting sweats, chills and
exhaustion. The effect of tik on the brain can also induce a tremor
similar to Parkinson's disease.

Users can also become psychotic and delusional.

Not least of the fallout, the Monday Paper says, are strokes that can
cause memory loss, the former associated with large doses of the drug.

Tik is also a sexual stimulant and will certainly intersect with the
transmission of HIV through unprotected sex.

The longer-term effects through prolonged use, the article says,
include weight loss, dental and skin problems, and the potential for
heart attacks. 
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