State tackles tik-tik-tik bomb

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Government will consider making it tougher to buy the ingredients used to make tik - crystal methamphetamine - in a bid to curb the manufacturing of the drug that is tearing communities apart in South Africa.

Social Welfare Deputy Minister Jean Swanson-Jacobs said yesterday that while this is a decision to be taken by health authorities, she will place the issue on the agenda with new legislation coming before parliament which will focus on ways to tackle addiction in the country.

She was speaking to journalists yesterday at the launch of a new preventative programme called Ke Moja - meaning I'm fine without drugs - aimed at children and the youth on the dangers of drug abuse and tik use, particularly in the Western Cape. The launch will take place in Franschoek on Saturday.

In a bold step to reduce the local "kitchen" manufactured ephedrine, the drug was given Schedule 5 status in May 2003 and is now only available on prescription. Crystal methamphetamine can be produced from ephedrine.

But manufacturers soon discovered other ways, such as using pseudoephedrine found in some over-the-counter remedies. It is pseudoephedrine that the government will now target. Swanson-Jacobs said that the government wants to target pharmacies where this is sold, so that only a limited amount can be sold over the counter.

The drug gives an immediate, extremely pleasurable rush or "flush", according to reports from users. The rush only lasts a few seconds, but is followed by euphoria - a high - that lasts for several hours. Users stay awake for hours, even days, during which they feel extremely active and energetic. They seldom get hungry and go for long periods without food. The rush and high are believed to result from the release of extremely high levels of the brain chemical, dopamine, into areas of the brain that regulate feelings of pleasure.