Substance Abuse

Substance AbuseBy “The Social Worker”

Substance abuse can simply be defined as a pattern of harmful use of any substance for mood-altering purposes, resulting in serious physical, psychological and economical harm.

According to Geyer 2012, in South Africa approximately 270991 citizens are problem drug users who primarily use cannabis and amphetamine type stimulants (ATS) and a further 1.97 million citizens are problem alcohol users.

EFFECTS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Drug abuse hurts the people who use the drugs and the people around them including families and society in general. People experiment with drugs for many different reasons- out of curiosity, to have a good time or for sport. Drug abuse is not so much about the amount or type of drug use, but rather about the consequences of drug use. No matter how often or how little you consume, if your drug use is causing problems at work, school, at home or in your relationship, you are likely to have a drug abuse problem.

PHYSICAL SIGNS OF DRUG ABUSE

–          Blood shot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual

–          Changes in appetite or sleep patterns

–          Sudden weight loss or weight gain

–          Neglect of physical appearance

–          Unusual smells on breath, body or clothing

–          Tremors, slurred speech or impaired co-ordination

BEHAVIOUR SIGNS OF DRUG ABUSE

–          Drop in attendance and performance at work or school

–          Unexplained need for money or financial problems

–          Engaging in suspicious behaviour

–          A sudden change in friends and hobbies

–          Frequent incidence of getting into fights, accidents or illegal activities

PSYCOLOGICAL WARNING SIGNS

–          Sudden mood swings, irritability or angry outbursts

–          Periods of unusual hyperactivity

–          Lack of motivation- appears ‘spaced out’’

–          Appears fearful, anxious or paranoid with no reason

EFFECTS ON THE FAMILY

Drug use can disrupt family life and create destructive patterns of co-dependency. Co- dependency is when the spouse or the whole family enable the user to continue using drugs by covering up, supplying money or denying that there is a problem. Drug use during pregnancy can have negative effects on foetal development. Babies affected can have lower birth weights than the average. Furthermore, many drugs cross the parental barrier, resulting in addicted babies who go through withdrawal soon after birth. The Foetal Alcohol Syndrome can also affect children of mothers who consume alcohol during pregnancy (http://www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/alcohol_illicitdrug.html : accessed April 2013).

EFFECTS ON SOCIETY

Drug abuse affects society in many ways. In the work place it is costly due to occupational accidents, lost work time and inefficiency. Many road accidents and deaths involve drug or alcohol use. Drug- related crime can disrupt neighbourhoods due to violence among drug dealers as well as crimes of violence and theft committed by addicts themselves.

ISLAMIC VIEWS ON ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

Islam views the use of alcohol and the abuse of drugs as a violation of Shari’ah law and therefore completely prohibits their use. Islam categorically states that if any substance can destroy the clarity of the mind, then it is harmful even in minute quantities. Therefore, Shari’ah law advocates a total prohibition of the use of alcohol and drugs. In a revelation from the Quran, it states, ‘’They ask thee concerning wine and gambling, say ‘In them is great sin and some profit for men, but the sin is greater than the profit (2-219)’(Michalak and Trockis).

SOUTH AFRICAN DRUG STATISTICS

These figures were obtained from the recent Stats SA and Global.

–          The recent released United Nations World Drug Report has named South Africa as one of the drug capitals of the world.

–          Drug consumption in South Africa is twice the world norm.

–          Drug abuse is costing South Africa R20- billion a year and could pose a bigger threat to the country’s future than the Aids pandemic.

–          In 2012, 80% of Grade 8-12 learners in a Gauteng survey said they regularly consume alcohol. Almost 3 in every 10 pupils -26.9 %who participated in the study said that they use illicit drugs, with dagga being the most popular (Unisa survey of over 4 300 learners).

DEALING WITH DRUG USERS AT GROUND LEVEL

IIt is frustrating and painful to have a struggling drug abuser in your life, and to watch them spiral further and further out of control. So here are 3 ways in which you can help.

  1. 1.      Set Boundaries.

It would be nice if we could just talk to a drug abuser and get them to comply. Of course, this never works in a direct way, so what you have to do is let the person know exactly what is unacceptable behaviour for you. For example, you may tell your child that if he goes to jail again for being found smoking dagga you are not going to bail him out. This is an example of setting a boundary. Do not threaten; simply state what is unacceptable behaviour to you. Setting boundaries might not change the drug users’ behaviour directly, but it can start to make them aware of their denial and that they need help. Distance yourself from the chaos that an addict creates and let them know that you still care for them in the same way and will assist in helping them recognise their problem and get help.

INTERVENTION

First you could do an informal intervention where you could confront the addict and get family and friends involved-get specific. The best way to do this is to figure out a specific treatment goal such as getting the addict to go to a detox centre.

The second level of intervention is to get professional help and if necessary to admit the addict to a drug rehabilitation centre through the statutory intervention of the court.

  1. 2.      Practice detachment

Try and detach from the addict emotionally. The idea is to still care for and about the person without rescuing them from their own natural consequences. Sometimes we need to back off and let them skin their knees’ a few times in order to learn a lesson. You can never deny an addict of their pain. Let them face the consequences of their actions and come to a state of self-3411realization. When you become emotionally involved you have a tendency to step in and rescue them from their pain and thus deny them of a learning experience that might force them to finally change.

Sometimes pain is the only motivator that works, and sometimes even that fails.

THINGS NOT TO DO

  1. Do not attempt to punish, threaten, bribe or preach to the addict.
  2. Do not try to be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and the compulsion to use drugs.
  3. Stop making excuses for the drug user, or shield them of their behaviour.
  4. Do not hide or throw out Drugs.
  5. Do not argue with the person when they are high.
  6. Do not take drugs with the drug abuser.
  7. Do not feel guilty for another’s behaviour.

WHERE TO GET HELP?

SANCA- JHB -011 781 6410

ARC- 011 425 0265

JHB OR PRETORIA REHABILITATION CENTRE- call 082 7473 422

HOUGHTON HOUSE (DRUG REHAB) – 011 787 9142

PHOENIX HOUSE- 08611 REHAB

ELIM CLINIC- 011 975 2951

NISTARA LODGE-   011  8545988/9

Crescent of Hope-  4300 – 256 – 015

Gift of the Givers-  27 11 832 1546

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