IF you could change one thing today what would it be?
I directed this question to my patient and he replied with tears in his eyes: “If I could go back to the day I took that first hit, I would turn around and walk away.”
Later I posed the question to his mother, and she replied with tears in her eyes: “I just want my son back.”
There is someone out there wondering what to cook for supper, or what to wear tomorrow, where to meet their friends or what time to wake the children.
Then there is someone out there wondering where their child is, is he safe or is he still alive? These are the thoughts running through the minds of families out there who have loved ones suffering from drug addiction.
An ever-growing epidemic in our country is taking Port Elizabeth by storm.
A drug can be described as any substance, legal or illegal, natural or synthetic, which if taken, has a physical social, behavioural and/or emotional effect on that person.
As a social worker I have seen many families, desperate for help as they no longer know what to do or who to turn to.
According to the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (Sacendu) updated statistics of June 2011, the proportion of patients under 20 ranged from 14% in the Eastern Cape to 25% in KwaZulu-Natal. This suggests that children are starting to experiment with drugs from a younger age.
It is important for us to understand why people take drugs.
If we look at peer pressure, children have the need to be accepted, to be popular or to impress their friends.
Drugs can also be used as a way to relieve stress, to keep calm or to take away the feeling of loneliness. Children suffering from a poor self-image could turn to drugs as a means of conveying a message to others, and even to themselves.
The potential negative consequences of taking drugs, coupled with the fact that they are illegal, can make drugs a more exciting prospect. The thrill of taking risks contributes to the prospect.
Another reason could be curiosity and in turn this leads to experimenting with different kinds of drugs.
Some drugs result in weight-loss or muscle-building and this could be a contributing factor to their use of drugs.
Drugs can also be used as an avenue to forget about financial or social problems or to solve sexual problems.
Drugs are administered through the skin, inhaled through the nose or mouth. It can also be injected through the veins or muscles, or snorted through the nose. Further means of administration are swallowing, chewing or placing it under the tongue.
The first time a drug is used the user will experience an exhilarating high or get very ill. Some even die. If they survive the initial fix they will then decide, to either not do it again or continue experimenting. This leads to repetitive use and then regular use. Eventually the user reaches a point where they abuse it, and eventually it leads to dependence.
If you suspect that someone is using drugs, confront the situation immediately and seek assistance.