Advice on alcohol and drug abuse



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In light of the approval of the National Week of Drugs and Alcohol (21-27 January), the Eco sat down with renowned Pietermaritzburg psychologist Raksha Singh, who specializes in the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse, to find out how great the problem of substance abuse in our city is.

"Now more than ever, we are seeing an increase among women becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol in our city, regardless of age and racial groups. Women are also becoming abusers of addictive medication for pain and sleep.

"Among our younger age groups (13-19 years) in the city, we are seeing a pattern of dependence on marijuana and heroin-based drug, whoonga," said Kelda Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation's former director and counselor Center, which closed last year in March.

Singh said the problem with drugs and alcohol appears to be increasing in schools, especially with marijuana, and added that crimes such as dismantling and theft often increase to cater for such addictions.

Explaining why people become addicted, Singh said that several factors should be taken into account when looking for addiction.

"Studies have proven that there is a significant genetic component to addiction in children who have parents who are addicted having a 50% greater chance of becoming addicted.

"Environmental factors also play a big role with peer pressure and exposure to drugs and alcohol that once started as a physical experiment that leads to physical dependence.

"Patients who suffer ongoing traumas and abuses that have not been treated often resort to substances like drugs and alcohol as negative coping strategies, which in turn evolve into addiction," Singh said.

Singh said there is a distinctly noticeable difference between drug users and social and addicted alcohol, stating that a social drinker can drink and stop once in a while, while for the addict it is different.

"Addicts have a hard time quitting. They need more and more of the same substance to feel good when they begin to develop a tolerance for the substance.

As time goes by, they develop a physiological dependence on the substance and experience withdrawal symptoms when they do not have the substance, which leads to a concern about obtaining the substance, despite the harm it may cause to itself or others "He added.

In terms of dealing with the issue in our city, the public receives outside patient help at Sanca.

Singh said that while there are programs to combat drug and alcohol use, she believes there is no decisive plan on how to deal with the growing number of young patients addicted to whoonga.

"What is needed is not another newspaper headline about how the city is plagued by young patients addicted to whoonga, but a headline outlining a decisive plan to deal with the problem," she said.

"These people need all the help they can because they are trapped and suffer immensely when they are addicted and become slaves to withdrawal symptoms and need biopsychological assistance," said Singh, who proposed that the city establish a rehabilitation clinic that could house . patients and provide adequate medication needed for medical detoxification that would be effective.

ALCOHOL FACTS:

• Alcoholism is usually self-diagnosable.

• Symptoms include repeated alcohol use despite related legal and health issues.

• Those with alcoholism can start each day with a drink, feel guilty about drinking and have the desire to reduce the amount of drink.

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