Drug and alcohol abuse is on the rise worldwide. South Africa is witnessing the scourge of addiction as the youth grows dependent on mind altering substances. This is because alcohol and drugs are becoming easier to get hold of, some may say that it is easier for a teenager to get drugs then it is to get alcohol. In the communication and technological age, illegal substances are easier to find and easier to purchase. What many people overlook is the fact that addiction is a disease. There is also hope for addicts in the grip of this progressive illness. Treatment is treatment available for all addictions, from heroin addiction to alcoholism. Recovery is possible.
Widely used drugs in South Africa
Crack, MDMA, Ecstasy, crystal meth, kat and cocaine are just a few examples of uppers. Uppers or stimulants dangerously increase the heart rate and stimulate the brain. Many people use these substances to feel more powerful, energised and awake.
Typical signs of stimulant abuse include:
• Reduced appetite or no appetite
• High levels of energy
• Dilated pupils
Heroin, codeine, alcohol, tranquilizers and mandrax are examples of downers. These substances delay certain brain functions, slowing or delaying the user’s mobility and speech. In cases such as heroin and alcohol, the user becomes physically addicted to the substance and has to let their body slowly detox from the substance. This is a painful but necessary process.
Typical signs of downer abuse include:
• Heaviness of the limbs
• Shallow Breathing
• Dry mouth
• Pinpoint pupils
• Sleeping constantly/ passing out
• Inability to concentrate
These include: LSD, PCP, magic mushrooms, weed (which is usually referred to as a downer but carries qualities of both types of drugs).These substances distort reality, plunging the user into a world of distortion, dreams, colours and sounds. Some of these substances create auditory and visual hallucinations, sending the user into a state of absolute delusion and confusion. These drugs may seem harmless at first but long term abuse can lead to lifelong psychological problems.
Typical signs of hallucinogen abuse:
• Distorted sense of sight
• Distorted sense of sound
• Dilated pupils
• Irrational behaviour
• Mood swings
• Severe confusion
These are just a few examples of addiction. Other types of addictions include: sex addiction, eating disorders, steroid abuse, prescription medication addiction and more…
It is vital that we as a society educate ourselves on the severity of addiction. If you suspect yourself, a loved one or a colleague is suffering with this illness, do the research.
Find out what treatments are available and what support groups are in the area. Reach out, ask for help and recognise that the human spirit can endure even the toughest of battles.