Tik – Methamphetamine, an all-consuming danger

The use of the drug tik alters normal functioning in a specific part of the limbic system that processes emotions such as anger and fear. As a result of this alteration, people using tik can easily develop paranoid, aggressive or violent states of mind.

“Crystal meth is typically sold in straws and costs between R15 and R30,” says Karen Griessel, a social worker at Wedge Gardens rehabilitation centre in Johannesburg.

Tik comes in many forms, from a fine powder to larger crystals. It can be snorted, orally ingested, injected or smoked, which is the most common method in South Africa.

On the street, tik has many names, including ‘tuk-tuk’, crystal, straws and globes. The powder or crystal is placed in a light bulb after the metal threading has been removed. A lighter is used to heat the bulb and the user smokes the fumes.

Tik symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, poor hygiene, increased irritability and a short-temper with out of control aggressiveness, dilated pupils, rapid speech, high anxiety, psychosis, headaches and insomnia. Addicts could still crave the drug months after using it.

“The affordability of tik means it has gained rapid popularity in South Africa. Tik is often combined with a host of chemicals and other harmful ingredients that cause mental health and physical health problems,” says Karen.

To understand it better we need to understand the limbic system, which is a collection of brain structures that includes the hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdala. The hippocampus plays a vital role in normal consciousness by converting unstable short-term memories into stable long-term memories.

In addition to a wide range of other functions, the hypothalamus acts as the origin point for a number of different emotions and sensations, including pleasure, thirst, hunger, anger, aggression and varying degrees of sexual satisfaction. The amygdala shares in tasks performed by the hippocampus and hypothalamus, including storage of long-term memories and the generation of pleasure, fear, anger and other emotional states.

Pleasure levels inside the limbic system are regulated by a chemical messenger inside the brain called dopamine. High levels of this chemical translate into an increased experience of pleasure. Like most other commonly abused drugs, tik triggers euphoria by boosting the limbic system’s dopamine levels.

However, while some drugs produce relatively modest dopamine increases (two to four times above normal), tik produces an extreme dopamine boost (12 to 13 times above normal). This extreme effect largely accounts for the highly addictive nature of the drug.

“Tik also affects the pre-frontal cortex which affects the ability to make decisions, forge healthy human connections and to have empathy. This changes the pre-frontal cortex’s control over the amygdala and results in feelings of paranoia. Addicts may think someone is out to get them, that lies are being spread about them, that their possession are being stolen or that their lives are in danger,” says Karen.

This fear often causes violent behaviour in habitual users.

Wedge Gardens rehab centre has a holistic three-month programme run by professionals who are equipped to deal with the complexities of drug and alcohol addiction. As challenging as it is, it is possible to get clean and recover from the personal losses suffered through addiction – whether these losses are physical, psychological, emotional, social or financial.

“Recovery is a lifelong process that needs holistic rehabilitation. It takes commitment and motivation to want a healthy and normal life again,” she says.

Wedge Gardens can be contact at 011 430 0320 or visit the website www.wedgegardens.co.za

Synthetic drugs, the monster creeping in and killing our youth

The recent videos that have created a storm across social media highlight the dangers facing our children.

Several children who smoked what was an unknown substance had to be rushed to hospital where they were treated for symptoms including seizures, psychosis, nausea, vomiting and hallucinations. At least 14 people were hospitalised after smoking the substance on the last weekend in October.

Karen Griessel, a social worker at Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg, said that the increasing popularity of potentially-deadly synthetic herbs is a massive concern. Particularly worrying is the number of young children who expose themselves to synthesised chemicals while experimenting with what they often think are natural herbs.

The message is clear: Stay away from any substance similar to marijuana because one hit could land you in hospital.

In October 2016, Karen spoke out about patients who had used these cannabinoids,  also called K2, Spice or Herb Blend, amongst other names. She also went undercover to prove how easy it is to purchase the substance.

“My concerns regarding this unregulated substance is that it is freely available and because the chemical compound changes in every other batch produced, it is a difficult task to pinpoint, prevent and, especially, to treat.

“However, the symptoms of smoking these herbs have obviously escalated to a whole new level which should not be underestimated – as illustrated so graphically in the videos currently doing the rounds.

“I think it is of major importance that a national education campaign around these substances be held. We need to protect our children and loves ones. The younger generations, many of whom are still naïve, are most vulnerable.”

She says the symptoms – violent temper tantrums, aggression, irrational behaviour, impaired mobility, slurred speech, panic attacks, seizures, reduced or elevated blood pressure, delusion, confusion and psychosis – are of grave concern.

“There are also rumours that the synthetic herbs are being laced with Flakka which could have terrifying outcomes because both are extremely dangerous drugs.”

Flakka is a synthetic drug but a cathinone similar to cocaine and bath salts (psychoactive designer drug). Symptoms include hyperactivity, strength, agitation, delirium and psychosis, changes in heart rate, cardiomyopathy and heart attacks.

“Now can you imagine mixing this deadly cocktail? More should be done across all sectors to safeguard our citizens. And citizens should be made aware and educated whilst the shops selling these products so openly should be exposed.

“Please use this information and share with others so we can be empowered to fight this enemy. If you have any information regarding these drugs and the shops selling them, please do the right thing and report it.”

Wedge Gardens can be contacted at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or visit their website – www.wedgegardens.co.za

Wedge Gardens slams dagga ruling

Wedge Gardens substance abuse treatment centre outside of Johannesburg has reacted with dismay to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on September 18 that permits people to cultivate and use cannabis ‘in private’ and for their own use.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ruled the personal use of dagga is not a criminal offence.

Sanca, to which Wedge Gardens is affiliated, said in reaction that South Africa is already crippled with the highest percentages of addiction in the world (World Health Organisation report 2017).

Wedge Garden’s Adèl Grobbelaar said it was a sad day for South Africa. She said that while dagga is now freely available, rehabilitation is not. There are in fact insufficient treatment centres and private therapy is relatively expensive.

She added that a can of worms had been opened in terms of monitoring the use of  dagga to ensure that it meets the criteria of the ruling and that children under the age of 18 are not using the drug.

“This opens the door to drug dealers to make even more money off addicts. Often, the dagga you buy is not ‘clean’ but is laced with various other drugs that cause the acceleration of the addiction process. The more the dealers sell, the more money they make.

“The fact remains that dagga is a gateway drug to other drugs; recent research within our clinics has once again made this very clear. Now, youth coming from law-abiding families who previous were less likely to access dagga will more easily be exposed to the drug.”

While there have long been arguments that dagga is medicinal, just like any medicine, there is a real threat of addiction when not taken in moderation.

“Also concerning is the reality that the younger people are when they start using dagga, the higher the possibility of developing psychiatric conditions.

“It is indeed a very sad day because a high percentage of our youth are going to bear the consequences of this ruling.”

Sanca added that smoking and using cannabis in one’s personal space could violate the rights of children and others. The stricter tobacco rules being proposed in the Tobacco Draft Bill are also at odds with this ruling, said Sanca.

The organisation said that one third of all patients treated by Sanca nationally used cannabis alone or in combination with other substances and an internal study at Sanca confirmed that nearly 60% of clients started with cannabis and then moved to other substances.

Any change in legislation that may have an impact on the citizens of a country necessitates that the widest possible consultation takes place to consider the impact on crime, health and welfare and education, concluded Sanca.

Contact details: 

Sanca National: 011 892 3829

Website: www.sancanational.info

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942

Website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

Recognition for Wedge Gardens trio

Three Rand Aid Association employees from Wedge Gardens were recognised at the NPO’s long service awards on August 23.

Since Rand Aid implemented the awards 13 years ago, 1 019 awards representing 9 685 years of service have been handed out.

At this year’s awards, 32 staff members were recognised for a combined 305 years of service, ranging from five years to 10, 15, 20 and 25 years.

“I thank each staff member for the devoted service they give to Rand Aid and its residents,” said Rae.

The awards were presented by John Robinson, the chairman of the Rand Aid board.

The Wedge Gardens recipients were Patrick Mahlelehlele and Paul Swanepoel for 20 years; and Roland Chapman for 15.

Patrick Mahlelehlele

Patrick started off as a Reid A orderly. He then became the laundry attendant at Wedge Gardens and also did escort duties to hospitals. He is a very quiet, even-tempered guy who does what is expected of him. He enjoys his sport channels.

Paul Swanepoel

Affectionately known as ‘Grumpy, Paul is a very hardworking plumber and builder who is always on duty and always ready to assist residents and staff alike. He is an all-rounder who knows every nook and cranny in the village… every geyser and every lock and all the blockages!

Paul takes great pride in his work and prefers to manage call-outs to Elphin Lodge himself rather than leave things to the after-hours team. He’s never been concerned about his weekend being disrupted by blockages or breakdowns.

A man happy in his work and always concerned about village and care centre maintenance issues, he never knocks off without checking that no urgent jobs remain.

Paul’s not a smiley man but he is direct, competent and, under the gruff exterior, a very caring man.

Roland Chapman

Roland started off being an orderly in Reid B on the old premises and when it changed to the Ibis ward he took charge of the kitchen in the ward. The ladies back then loved him and enjoyed being served by him.

He then moved into the store where he is still today. Roland does an awesome job and is extremely helpful. He always has a joke or two up his sleeve and loves teasing whoever crosses paths with him.  He is well known and loved in the organisation.

#InternationalOverdoseDay2018 @WedgeGardens

The power of positive thinking was the central theme of all treatment sessions at Wedge Gardens in the last week of August, in the build-up to International Overdose Awareness Day being celebrated today (Friday, 31 August).

People being treated at the rehab centre were asked to write an inspirational message on a special blackboard. Messages like, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count’ and ‘Recover, find peace, live free’ served as affirmation that addiction can be overcome with the will to start again and the support of a caring therapeutic team.

People are encouraged to wear silver today to spread awareness of International Overdose Day. This global event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942

Website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

#InternationalOverdoseDay2018 @WedgeGardens

Wedge Gardens’ therapeutic team centred its activities around overdose awareness in the last week of August 2018, to mark #InternationalOverdoseDay2018 on Friday, 31 August.

Activities included intervention work (like incorporating lectures on the traumas relating to an overdose) and the sharing of national statistics and stories relating to drug overdose. Also discussed were the different types of drugs associated with overdose, the high risk of mixing certain drugs, the dangers of reduced tolerance and the threats association with getting drugs from unfamiliar suppliers.

“We looked at prevention, recognition and basic response tools as well,” says addiction specialist Karen Griessel, who is a social worker at Wedge Gardens.

“On a lighter note, each patient made a mask depicting their inward and outward feelings regarding addiction and the painful reality of overdose.

“We have also implemented a chalk paint wall where we each patient can write up their pro-life quote in remembrance of those who have lost their fight against the disease of addiction. By having participants write an inspiring message on the wall, we were able to conclude that day’s activities on a positive note.”

People are encouraged to wear silver on Friday to spread awareness of International Overdose Day. This global event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942

Website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

 

Caption:

Wedge Gardens social worker Karen Griessel with people undergoing rehab at the substance abuse treatment centre. They are wearing masks they made to depict their inward and outward feelings regarding addiction.

 

Wedge Gardens supports #InternationalOverdoseDay2018

This Friday (31 August) is International Overdose Day and Wedge Gardens treatment centre will dedicate its lecturers and workshops to raising awareness of how easily a drug overdose can happen.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Sanca and its affiliates want to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, as well as acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends of those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Members of the public are asked to wear silver on Friday to show their support of #InternationalOverdoseDay2018.

The United Nations World Drug report of 2014 reported that 7.06% of South Africans abuse narcotics of some kind. One in 14 people are regular users. This equals 3.74 million people.

Over the past 12 years, there has been a 35% increase in admissions to the 30 Sanca-affiliated treatment centres, reflecting the increasing national substance abuse levels in South Africa.

Sanca treated 24 152 clients in the two-year period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2018. The majority of the clients (75%) were treated at outpatient centres and 25% at inpatient treatment centres.

Most people who seek treatment at Sanca centres are aged between 22 and 35.  The second largest group is 14 to 17 years old. Alarmingly, there is an increase of 3% in the number of children aged between four and 13 who seek treatment.

Sanca says that the high number of youngsters abusing substances is extremely worrying because the brain only reaches maturity at 26 years of age and before that, the risks of permanent structural changes to the brain are increased.

Cannabis is the main substance being abused (between 37% and 38%); then alcohol (between 19% and 21%); heroin/opiates (14%) and ‘other mixed’ – which includes whoonga/nyaope (14%).

Many people assume that overdose is only relevant to illegal drugs but people can overdose on prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The categories of OTC medications most likely to be abused are painkillers and anti-inflammatories; heartburn and indigestion medications; cough and cold medications; weight loss laxatives, diuretics and slimming tablets; and sleep aids.

Many people don’t realise that most painkillers and cold and cough medications contains codeine, which is derived from the opioid family (like heroin and morphine). If used as instructed, it will benefit the person but if abused, it could cause dependency and have harmful consequences.

THE DANGERS OF OTC AND PRESCRIPTION ABUSE

  • Long-term use can lead to adverse effects and have serious side effects.
  • OTC can interact and interfere with prescription medications. Aspirin, for example, interacts with blood thinners, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Pseudoephedrine found in cough and cold medications interfere with anti-depressants or stimulants used for ADHD.
  • OTC laxatives (sodium phosphate) can cause dehydration and abnormal levels of electrolytes in the blood, leading to kidney failure.
  • Chronic use could lead to tolerance, physical dependency or even addiction.
  • Some of the long-term effects are kidney and liver damage, seizures, heart rhythm abnormalities, stroke, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, gallstones, chronic constipation, depression, constant rebound headaches, neurological problems, psychiatric problems and even death in some cases.

Thousands of people die each year from drug-related causes, including suicides when intoxicated as well as motor vehicle accidents due to drunk driving.

Substance use disorders are dangerous and over time, the person develops a serious problem. The cycle of compulsive drug use can only be broken through professional assistance.

Sanca encourages members of the public to share any story of loss on the Sanca National Directorate Facebook page or on your Facebook or Twitter account. You could save a life! 

Contact details:

SANCA National: 011 892 3829

Whatsapp: 076 535 1701

Website: www.sancanational.info

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942

Website: www.wedgegardens.co.za

Wedge Gardens interviewed on Health Matters: Drug Awareness Week

Watch the Health Matters video in which Host Dr Yakub Essack talks about Drug Awareness Week with Wedge Gardens’ Adel Grobbelaar to understand the medical issues and signs of drug addicts as well as where and how to treat an addict. #WedgeGardens #KickYourHabit

Wedge Gardens: Committed to fighting substance abuse

Wedge Gardens is available to do drug and alcohol abuse awareness talks at schools and in workplaces.

The Sanca-affiliated rehabilitation centre, situated close to both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, offers a diversion programme for employees whose work is being affected by addiction issues and who may thus need counselling or rehabilitation. This is in addiction to a full range of holistic substance abuse treatment programmes.

For further information, call 011 430 0320.

Wedge Gardens: Committed to fighting substance abuse

Committed to fighting drug and alcohol abuse

Wedge Gardens is available to do drug and alcohol abuse awareness talks at schools and in workplaces.

The Sanca-affiliated rehabilitation centre, situated close to both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, offers a diversion programme for employees whose work is being affected by addiction issues and who may thus need counselling or rehabilitation. This is in addiction to a full range of holistic substance abuse treatment programmes.

Always ready to help raise addiction awareness, Wedge Gardens participated in Rothe Plantscapers’ recent employee wellness day.

“We sent two staff members to talk about addiction and abuse, as well as what those affected can do to get help for either themselves or family members,” says Wedge Gardens’ Adel Grobbelaar.

Promotional material was also handed out.

For further information, call Gardens’ Adel at 011 430 0320.

Copyright Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre 2016