Drug abuse hike in far south

A police sniffer dog in a classroom.

Drug and substance abuse among children and young adults has spiked in the far south in recent months, according to a community counsellor.

Johann Kikillus, founder of Soteria Ministries and the Ocean View Care Centre, has many years of experience counselling victims of substance abuse.

He says he has been inundated with drug cases from Fish Hoek, Capri, Noordhoek, Kommetjie and Glencairn in the past eight months.

Mr Kikillus says parents often come to him out of desperation after their children’s drug use has landed them in serious trouble.

The cases vary in severity from attempted suicide to self harm, psychosis, aggressive behaviour and criminal activity.

According to Mr Kikillus, the problem is not new to the far south but it is
taking its toll on the parents and caregivers.

“Most of the mothers I have spoken to admit that they are feeling scared, depressed, alone and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. They don’t know where to turn to and in many cases they cannot afford the exorbitant fees for drug rehabilitation.”

The parents say the schools are not offering solutions. Going to the police is also not a solution as they fear their children will be arrested. So they are trapped in a cycle of despair and often, also

Mr Kikillis says alcohol and marijuana are the main drugs being used, but in some cases it’s heroin, cocaine and tik.

He knows of cases of children as young as 7 smoking marijuana.

“This has a negative effect on youngsters whose brains are still developing.”

The long-term effects of the drug include mood changes, difficulty in thinking, impaired memory and, in extreme cases, delusions, drug psychosis and schizophrenia.

Department of Social Development spokeswoman, Esther Lewis, says parents can consult a social worker at their local Social Development office, where an assessment can be done and a course of action planned.

Non-profit drug-treatment centres in the area, she says, include Living Hope, which provides outpatient treatment, and Valley Development Projects, which serves Ocean View and Masiphumelele.

Victory Church pastor, Jono Holgate says they have counsellors and links to groups that can help parents and children battling substance abuse.

Jessica Shelver, spokeswoman for Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, says it’s vital for schools to remain drug free and for parents and pupils to know where they can get help to deal with substance abuse.

The Safe Schools substance abuse programme, she says, provides basic information on drug detection techniques, peer counselling and specialised fields of drug control.

Drug testing at schools, she says, can also be used to pick up pupils experimenting with drugs early on so they can get help.

“We are fully aware of the challenges around drug use and abuse by learners of school-going age and work closely with partners in the Western Cape government and civil society to deal with substance abuse among young people in our province.”

Pupils and parents can call the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) hotline – 0800 45 46 47 – for help.

Visit http://druginfo.westerncape.gov.za or www.heretohelp.co.za or call the Social Development office in Fish Hoek Main Road at 021 001 3033 for ,more information.