'Addiction is a disease of loss, you lose freedom'

Drug use in general can be a costly habit. Richard, who recently discovered the highly addictive drug known in the Western Cape as "tik", has learnt this the hard way.

Drug use in general can be a costly habit. Richard, who recently discovered the highly addictive drug known in the Western Cape as "tik", has learnt this the hard way.

Richard, 32, was once a respected and high-earning accountant. But now he has lost his job, thanks to his addiction to methamphetamine or crystal meth.

Like many addicts in Western Cape, Richard discovered the cost of tik addiction when it was too late.

"Addiction is really a disease of loss. You lose your relationship with your parents. You lose your relationship with real friends. You lose your job. You lose your freedom - you end up in jail. You lose all financial resources that you had," he said with a shaky voice.

Tik is a white, odourless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder. Its ingredients can easily be accessed, making it easy for drug pushers to manufacture, even at home.

Richard was introduced to the drug early this year by a sex worker who regularly visited him at his flat. But he was already accustomed to using drugs before then. He used ecstasy and cocaine at the time, which, he said, "drove up" his sex drive and made him turn to sex workers.

The addiction pushed him into credit card debt of more than R50000. However, like all addicts, that did not stop him from coming up with innovative ways of getting more of the substance. He thought switching to tik would ease the financial burden he had accumulated.

"When I started to use tik I was under the impression that it would be cheaper and last longer than cocaine. The disease of addiction is wanting more and I ended up trying tik. Little did I know what was in store. Tik made me stay awake.

"The last weekend I was in addiction I was awake for four days in a row," he said.

But now he wants to stop using drugs. He has been in rehab at a private clinic in Cape Town for three months. This was after he was arrested for drug possession, an event he said he "would forever cherish". - Health-e news

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