12 Jan 2005
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By Staff reporter
THE use of hard drugs and its subsequent lethal consequences is on the rise among many Namibian youth and has claimed a few lives over the past year.
Last year only, five people out of a total of 50 drug addicts who received treatment at the Okonguari Psycho-therapeadic Centre near Otjiwarongo died through the direct use of hard drugs.
At Nova Vita Rehabilitation Centre in Windhoek, a young black man in his twenties succumbed as a result of this deadly habit.
According to the police, Namibia has surely become a user country, unlike in the past where it was used as a transit point. Also in black suburbs of Katutura and Khomasdal, drugs are used and shared openly, even in shebeens, something that did not happen in the not too distant past.
In the past, recreational drugs such as dagga and to a larger extent, mandrax, were mostly used in black suburbs.
New Era reliably learnt that last year, four youths from the Katutura and Kho-masdal suburbs also died after taking an overdose of cocaine, or rather "Kafufu" or "Kafuks" as it is commonly known in the former black townships.
A mother recently also caught her son red-handed injecting his arm with a needle filled with cocaine, while a young engaged woman stripped naked after allegedly taking cocaine.
Hard drugs are used to such an extent that people are regularly treated for overdose and it is alleged that a Windhoek-based medical practitioner accepts bribes to treat people who have had an overdose.
Shocking statistics by two rehabilitation centres, Okonguari and Nova Vita, revealed the majority of patients treated for hard drugs were mostly young, aged between 15 and 35.
According to Dr Herman Abel Raath of the Okonguari Psychotherapeadic Centre, the use of hard drugs among the coloured community has been on the increase. He attributed the entry of these drugs into black communities to social upliftment of blacks, who have become financially well off, thus able to afford such expensive drugs.
He said most of his patients go to the centre on pressure from their families and thus opt to give it a try.
"Most of them come here for a trial basis, but like with any kind of treatment, there are always relapses, thus, it is not only a question that they fully recover," he stated.
A social worker at Nova Vita Rehabilitation Centre, Tanya Engelbrecht, confirms this.
"They do this mostly when they have done something criminal. They will do anything to get this drug, even steal from their homes or pick pocketing a tourist and when they appear in court their families realise the extent of their addiction and send them for treatment," she confirmed.
She said chances for recovery were tough as people become physically addicted.
"If they don't get this drug, they develop a withdrawal symptom. They become sick and sometimes this can be very painful. They are physically addicted because they have a physical craving for this drug," she stressed.
She said with other drugs such as dagga and alcohol, it becomes more of a psychological dependency while the physical addiction appears at a very late stage.
"In the case of dagga and alcohol, people take them because they want to relax," she stated.
Engelbrecht said the use of hard drugs among women has become equally high compared to men, unlike with other drugs such as alcohol and dagga, which are mostly used by men.
She believes the 50/50 usage pattern between male and female is because drugs such as cocaine are considered sophisticated.
Between January 4 and 9, the Drug Law Enforcement Unit (DLEU) arrested 11 people aged between 20 and 45 for being in possession of different types of drugs.
Police on Monday also revealed arresting a man aged 40 for the possession of cocaine tablets valued at N$100.
These arrests were made in Katutura and Khomasdal during random raids on drug dealers.