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Drug abuse in South Africa is said to be taking a heavy toll on communities in the country, according to the South Africa’s Central Drug Authority (CAD) where drugs fuel a life of addiction and crime especially among the youth.
Second Chance Recovery Centre which was established in 2010 is working to rehabilitate drug addicts who often fall prey to addictive drug cocktails found in the country.
In South Africa’s capital Pretoria, this group of youth discuss their experiences as part of a recovery program that targets drug addicts.
Second Chance Recovery Centre works with communities, churches and police to help those affected recover from substance abuse.
Those under the program are taught life skills and how to break free from habits that kept them hooked to drugs. They also learn how to focus on building a solid future.
Many youth in the country are often introduced to drugs through their peers. Young people also easily drift into drugs, alcohol and gang life especially those living in low income areas where unemployment and crime is also high.
A recovering drug addict , Masopha Dlamini regretted that pressure from his peers pushed into drug addiction.
“My ambition to be with the wrong crowd led me to a place where I got heavily addicted to drugs. I was a drug dealer as well at school, Iuse to sell marijuana, cigarettes and then I dropped out. While using it— it seemed ok because of peer pressure. All of our friends were using and seem happy and as time went on I could not cope without the drug,” he said.
Another recovering substance abuser, Thsepo Mothibe recalled his nefarious activities while using the drug.“Most of my time I was doing house breaking, I was in and out to jails, I used to be caught, maybe I have three criminal records for house breaking. That’s what I used to do most of the time a lot, not robbing people, but I used to do house breaking, house breaking,” he explained.
South Africa has long had a domestic market for drugs and also feeds the global supply chain of narcotics.
Over the years, the addictive nature of drugs has seen unusual and potentially dangerous cocktails emerge in the country like ‘nyaope’ or ‘whoonga’ which include a mix of substances like heroin, marijuana, rat poison, detergent and anti-retroviral or ARV drugs.
At least 15 percent of South Africans are said to have a drug problem, according to the country’s Central Drug Authority.
The cocktails usually offer a cheap but highly addictive option in the country’s townships.
Terrence Makanisa ,the Director of the Central Rand Alcohol and drug Centre was upbeat about the impact of the program. He however feared that a new drug may be introduced and that could wipfe out the whole community.
“We have treated a lot of other drugs in the past, ten years or so, your mandrax, your white pipe which was a combination of marijuana as well as the mandrax as well. Now we are affected by the scourge of ‘nyaope’ as well, so only God knows, what else we are going to be dealing with next. But every five years, you know, we are introduced to a new drug that actually wipe out the whole community”.
To help deal with increasing cases of drug abuse in the country, the Central Drug Authority says its focus is on equipping communities to enable them deal with drug abuse as a whole and help recovering drug addicts.