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Do you need help?

Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre

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T:  +27 (0)21 447 8026

F:  +27 21 447 8026

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www.drugcentre.org.za

“it’s closer to home than you think”

As many as one in four people in the general population may suffer from drug, alcohol, gambling addiction or indulge in other compulsive behaviours like overeating. Addiction breaks up families, damages communities and destroys lives. Despite this, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about addiction what it is, who it affects, and how one can get help and support.

What is Addiction

An addiction is a habit that has spiraled out of control. It is a harmful, recurring compulsion to engage in a particular activity such as drug taking, drinking, smoking, gambling, restricting food intake, over eating (with or without purging) and compulsive sexual activity. An addict engages in the activity to which he is addicted not to induce pleasure but to relieve the anxiety of withdrawal. In essence the abused substance activates reward circuits in the brain. The release of the ‘feel-good’ hormone Dopamine in these ‘reward circuits’ suppresses the prefrontal cortex the part of the brain which is used to exercise judgment (and hence terminate alcohol or drug use). This explains why the addicted person continues to abuse the substance despite the negative consequences.

Who does it affect

  • Scientific research has revealed that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behaviour, and there are biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. People of all ages suffer the harmful consequences of drug abuse and addiction.
  • Babies exposed to legal and illegal drugs in the womb may be born premature, underweight and with birth defects. This drug exposure can slow the child’s intellectual development and affect behaviour later in life.
  • Adolescents who abuse drugs often act out, do poorly academically, and drop out of school. They are at risk of unplanned pregnancies, violence, and infectious diseases.
  • Adults who abuse drugs often have problems thinking clearly, remembering, and paying attention. They often develop poor social behaviours as a result of their drug abuse, and their work performance and personal relationships suffer.
  • Parents’ drug abuse often means chaotic, stress-filled homes, child abuse and neglect. Such conditions harm the well-being and development of children in the home and may set the stage for drug abuse in the next generation.