'Tik', or crystal meth, has been used by the majority of alcohol and drug users who have been admitted for treatment in the province according to a report on substance abuse trends. A report by South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use reports that in the second half of 2012, over 3,000 people were admitted for treatment at 26 drug abuse treatment centers in Cape Town. Out of the 3,000 admitted tik was the main drug of abuse for 33% of them, followed by 22% mainly using cannabis and another 22% primarily using alcohol.
The report said that tik remained to be the most common primary drug reported by patients in the Western Cape. According to the Sacendu report, treatment admissions for heroin have reduced as a primary drug of use in the Western Cape. However, when it comes to club drugs such as tik and ecstasy, treatment admissions for those substances were lower everywhere else except in the Western Cape. Across several sites abuse of prescription drugs and over the counter drugs such as slimming tablets remains to be an alarming issue.
Tik, also known as crystal meth, is a crystal-like odorless substance. It speeds up the functions of the vital organs, such as the heart, and harms the central nervous system, it is also highly addictive. Tik is typically smoked in a glass pipe and the crystals are heated until they emit smoke which is inhaled to produce a high. The drug can also be snorted, swallowed and injected for a quicker and more intense high. Abusers of tik usually fall into a cycle of crash and binge which leads them to severe withdrawal symptoms, promoting them to use more tik to stop the symptoms.
The use of tik is being referred to as an epidemic because there has been a rapid increase in abuse of the drug in such a short period of time. A director of the Cape Town Drug Counseling Center, Grant Jardine says that in 2004 less than 1% of their clients used tik but just a few years later that figure grew to more than half of their clients. Tik is widely available, cheap and easy to produce and the recipe can also be found on the Internet which has sparked growth of many small operations. However, many tik abusers seek treatment early because they experience psychotic episodes that worry them.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.