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!
SANCA National: 011 892 3829
Whatsapp: 076 535 1701
Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942