Pubdate: Wed, 06 Sep 2006
Source: Citizen, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2006 The Citizen
Author: Andre Grobler


BLOEMFONTEIN - The profile of patients attending the Aurora Alcohol
and Drug rehabilitation centre in Bloemfontein has become younger over
the years, the centre's director said on Wednesday.

"(Previously) you mainly worked with alcoholism at centres like this,
the other stuff (drugs) were a side issue," said Gert Kruger.

"Today the majority of your patients are under 35 years of

Kruger said in the age category five to 20 years they had about 43
patients during the previous financial year that ended in March 2006.

"This is just under ten percent of the total patients we

Kruger said the age profile became younger because people were using
drugs from a younger age.

"The youngest patients we had were about 12 to 13 years

Kruger reacted after a media report indicating that buying drugs was
as easy as buying bread for Bloemfontein schoolchildren.

This emerged during an extensive search for cellphone thieves at a
number of high schools in Bloemfontein.

It revealed the involvement of several high school learners with drug
dealers from West Africa.

"Pupils steal the cellphones from classmates or teachers to sell for
cash to Nigerians or exchange for drugs," Leon Rossouw, a well-know
local detective, was quoted as saying by News24.

"Drugs are really freely available. It's as easy as buying bread,"
Captain Jackie de Klerk, a project leader to fight organised crime in
the city, was also quoted as saying.

Kruger agreed. "What the report has highlighted was the easy
availability of drugs."

"That is so. I cannot prove it but we know this. Just talk to any

Kruger said the centre treated 440 people over its previous financial
year of which 304 were for alcohol-related problems.

However, dagga seems to be the most popular drug as most patients were
treated for dagga dependency.

"The combination of dagga and Mandrax are also a major problem,
followed by cocaine-crack," said Kruger.  Out of the 440 patients, 84
patients were using a cocktail of drugs.

"They used (drugs) as money gets available." - Sapa. 
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