Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2009 Cape Argus.
Author: Bronwynne Jooste
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Tik is losing its grip on Western Cape teenagers,  according to the 
latest medical research, which shows  that use of the drug is most 
prevalent among people in  their early 20s.

But experts have warned that a new drug is likely to  take its place.

Figures released this week show that the average age of  tik users 
has been on the increase since 2006.

When the drug first started sweeping through Cape Flats  communities, 
the average age of users was 19.

The latest figures were released by the SA Medical  Research Council 
whose SA Community Epidemiology  Network on Drug Use collected the 
information over the  first six months of last year.

The network routinely collects the information from  patients at 25 
city rehabilitation centres and presents  the results in two 
six-month sets for each year.

Among other things, the findings show up users who have  tik as their 
main substance of abuse, as well as those  who list it as a secondary 

The research council has been collecting information  since 2002 from 
rehabilitation centre patients battling  tik addiction .

Andreas Pluddeman, senior researcher in the council's  Drug, Alcohol 
and Drug Abuse Unit, said the average age  of tik users had 
definitely increased since 2006. "One  of the conclusions that could 
be drawn is that there  are slightly fewer teenagers who are 
initiating tik  use."

But he said tik still remained the main problem drug  among people 
seeking help at the city's rehab centres.

Tik use reached a peak in the second half of 2006, with  1 184 
patients out of a total 2 798 surveyed reporting  it was their 
primary drug of abuse.

Pluddeman said the findings, tracked from 2002, were  "unprecedented" 
in terms of the sharp increase of  users.

In the first half of 2002, just 32 of the 1 551  patients were addicted to tik.

"There was a curve, and now it seems to be flattening  off," he said.

Grant Jardine, of the Cape Town Drug Counselling  Centre, said the 
new figures had been expected,  considering their own recent 
statistics correlated with  those of the MRC.

"Drugs work in cycles and each generation has a popular  drug."
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