Crystal meth and dagga, a lethal combination

Of great concern to nurses at SANCA Wedge Gardens substance use treatment centre in Johannesburg is the use of a combination of crystal methamphetamine (meth) and dagga.

According to SANCA Wedge Gardens’ deputy complex manager Estelle Raath, meth is a powerful stimulant that acts on the central nervous system.

“Most patients intentionally use meth and dagga at the same time, to take the edge off the meth high, which causes a temporary feeling well-being, increased alertness, energy and anxiety.

“The combination of meth and dagga that we see at our detox facility is all too common. Combined, it can cause significant brain damage,” says Raath.

She explains that combining meth with dagga enhances its harmful effect and the damage can be severe.

“Using the two together increases a person’s risk of mental health problems, including psychotic symptoms, especially in those patients with existing mental health problems,” says Raath.

“Meth destroys part of the brain and its long-term effects have shown a decline in thinking and motor skills and a severe change in the structure and functioning of parts of the brain,” she adds.

Mood disturbances, confusion and insomnia are some of the common symptoms of chronic meth use. Most patients develop symptoms of psychosis, memory loss and delusions that can continue for months or years after they’ve stopped using meth.

For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens’ Full Circle Recovery Programme, visit