Dealing with Drug Addiction in South Africa

Unlike simple bad habits, drug addictions have serious consequences. They have a negative impact on the personal lives of the individual, their families and other people. Drugs affect health, financial well-being and relationships. They often lead to arrest and prosecution.

Addicts are not weak or bad people. They turn to drugs for a variety of reasons and they are simply not equipped to deal with triggers. The things they do whilst in the grip of addiction are also not indicative of their nature – their behaviour is a result of the addiction.

Addicts cannot control their addictions. In many circumstances, they would rather adjust their lives to enable them to continue with the substance use. It becomes the centre point of their lives. If they suddenly stop using a drug, they suffer severe physical withdrawal symptoms, as well as anxiety problems and return to using the drug.

Detoxification enables the patient to overcome the severe discomfort of withdrawing from an addictive drug substance and begin their journey into recovery.

Effective professional therapy deals with the underlying issues that caused the person to turn to drugs in the first place. It also fortifies the person to maintain future, long term freedom from drugs.

Types of drugs
We are all aware that there are many different types of drugs available today and new ones are constantly emerging. The media and internet abound with reports and information about them. In modern times it has become reasonably easy to obtain them and addicts quickly learn where the outlets are.

Some symptoms of abuse are consistent across the board, whilst others are specific to certain drugs. Please explore our other pages on drugs to learn more about the most common types. Regardless of the type of drug the person is addicted to, all the addictions can be treated.

Withdrawal/Abstinence
“Withdrawal symptoms” are the body’s natural reactions when it is suddenly deprived of an addictive substance. Acute substance abuse changes the functions of the body, so that it becomes dependent on the substance. Chemical and hormonal imbalances and severe discomfort (mentally and physically) are normal if the substance is withdrawn. It is rare for individuals to resist taking drugs, even after a short period of abstinence, unless they undergo detoxification and professional therapy.

Tolerance
Addicts become progressively more tolerant to a drug as time goes by. This increase in tolerance means that they have to increase the volume of the drug, each time they take the drug, to get the same result that they experienced on the previous occasion. Over time, they have to take more and more, until it reaches critical proportions. They may also have to take it at increasingly shorter intervals. This is a natural process and, over time, it is impossible to stay on the same level of consumption, or to reduce it, without experiencing severe discomfort.

Recovery/Interventions
At first, most addicts promise (and even try) to stop by themselves, but they usually relapse after a while. This process of  “promise-and-failure” is often repeated until the consequences become unbearable.

Addicts may have the best intentions when they promise to stop, but they do not have the ability to fulfill them. It often requires intervention by family, friends, employers, or an influential person to convince the addict to accept professional help.

A successful intervention process can, in some cases, be difficult and may require professional advice from a trained therapist about how to arrange and conduct the intervention. Please feel free to contact us to discuss this.

There are effective therapeutic treatments. After the initial detoxification, the therapy can be applied to correct the addict’s underlying reasons for seeking relief in drugs. Therapy will also prepare them for the way forward. There are more challenges facing a recovering addict than most people realise. Self-help and determination are not enough to deal with an addiction alone. Please feel free to phone Recovery Direct to discuss this or to arrange a confidential appointment with a trained therapist.