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Culture Of Addiction

The addict, regardless of drug of choice, is a chameleon.

Ask the addict for a self-explanation (life story), and the story goes through a kaleidoscope of changes depending on who’s listening.
Autobiographical accounts contain retrospective explanations and justifications that may have little to do with the person-drug relationship. The addict described by family members will never be the person described by others. Probation officers describe the addict from behind the criminality of the addict’s life. Clergy will describe the addict from spiritual emptiness aspect.  Anthropologists will describe the addict as being ‘naturalistic for that habitat’

Each view point exposes a different colour offered by and/or taken on by the addict

Intervention Guidelines

If a loved one is suffering from an addiction and you judge that they might be responsive to an appeal from family members and close friends to address their problem, an intervention might be a good course of action. 

By “intervention” we mean a deliberate, planned discussion initiated by those closest to the addicted person with the intention of encouraging him or her to recognise the problem and take action. 

The immediate objective of an intervention is to induce the addicted person to see clearly the impact of the addiction on themselves and others, without provoking defensiveness on the part of the addicted person or allowing the conversation to escalate into a conflict. 

In General, The Best Outcome Will Be Achieved By Adhering To The Following Guidelines


  • Ideally the intervention should involve a small group of people that are close to and care about the addicted person.
  • It is often helpful to write letters in advance, detailing the impact that the addiction has had on the writer. These can be read to the addicted person on the day.
  • You should educate yourself beforehand on relevant aspects such as the nature of the particular addiction, detoxification and treatment programmes – particularly those which suit the personality and needs of the addicted person.
  • The participants should plan in advance precisely how the conversation will unfold and should rehearse beforehand.
  • Each participant should be willing to offer concrete help to the addicted person in some or other way, within their respective means – e.g. attending family therapy sessions, financial support, care of children while the addicted person is in treatment.
  • The participants should be prepared to implement and act upon boundaries if the addicted person is not receptive to the request for intervention. Relationships will need to change. Everyone present must commit to cease enabling and codependent behaviour and be clear that there will be consequences for the addicted person if they refuse help.


  • The tone of the discussion should not be one of blame.
  • The discussion should not occur spontaneously when the addicted person is drunk or high.
  • The participants should not be overly prescriptive or authoritarian in the solutions presented.
  • Do not despair if the intervention ends badly. A seed has been planted.

Signs of an Addiction

Addiction is an insidious illness.  It usually develops gradually over time, making it easy for the severity of the problem to escape the notice of immediate family members.  On top of this, the natural inclination for close family is to deny and diminish the problem in order to retain some sense of normality. 

If you suspect that a family member may be addicted to alcohol or substances, but you are unsure of the severity of the problem, consider whether any of the following apply to the person:

  • An inability to stop using. The individual has made at least one serious but unsuccessful attempt to give up the substance or behaviour.
  • Use and abuse of substances continue despite health problems. The individual continues regularly taking the substance, even though they have developed related illnesses.
  • Dealing with problems. The substance or behaviour is resorted to in order to (or as an alternative to) dealing with problems.
  • Obsession. The individual has become obsessed with the substance or behaviour, spending more and more time and energy finding ways of getting access to it.
  • Taking risks. The individual takes risks to obtain the substance or engage in the behaviour.
  • Taking a large initial dose. This is common with alcoholics. The individual may rapidly consume large quantities of alcohol in order to feel its effects as soon as possible.
  • Sacrifices. The individual is willing to give up activities that they used to enjoy in order to carry on taking or having access to the substance.
  • Maintaining a good supply. The individual will ensure that they have a good supply of the substance of choice even if they cannot afford it or are put to serious inconvenience.
  • Secrecy and solitude. The individual uses the substance alone or in secret.
  • Disregard for safety. The individual consumes the substance in amounts which are unsafe (particularly in the case of alcohol and heroin).
  • Maintaining stashes. The individual maintains small hidden stashes of the substance in unlikely places (such as the car or the office).
  • Withdrawal. The individual experiences physical discomfort when their ingested levels of the substance drop below a certain level. Depending on the substance they may experience symptoms such as cravings, constipation, diarrhea, trembling, seizures, sweats, insomnia and uncharacteristic behaviours such as violence.
  • Appetite changes. Some substances alter a person’s appetite. Marijuana consumption, for example, might greatly increase their appetite while cocaine may reduce it.
  • Sleeplessness. While insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal, the use of illicit stimulants such as speed or ecstacy might also result in a disrupted sleep cycle.
  • A change in appearance. A person may begin to appear more disheveled, tired, and haggard, as using the substance or carrying out the addictive behavior replaces key parts of the day, including washing clothes and attending to personal hygiene.
  • Increasing tolerance. The individual needs to take more and more of the substance to achieve the same effect.

A person might experience a few of these symptoms or many of them. Substance use disorders manifest differently in different individuals.  In general, the greater the number of symptoms displayed, the greater is the severity of the situation. 

Most of the above symptoms apply equally (with the necessary changes) to process disorders (i.e. an addiction to a behaviour such as gambling or shopping). 

A Guide on How to Deal With a Tik Addict

Tik is renowned as one of the most addictive drugs in South Africa, an ‘upper’ drug that induces intense but short-lived euphoria, confidence and paranoia. Officially known as Crystal Meth, it’s an extremely addictive substance that hooks its victims more often than not from the first hit, making it extremely dangerous.

The mind-altering and addictive nature of any drug, makes dealing with an addict a monstrously difficult task. If you’re faced with a loved one suffering from addiction, it’s important for them, and for yourself, to handle the situation appropriately. Forget everything you think it takes to support that person as you normally would; while this process is normal and nothing to be ashamed of, what you can consider the norm for your loved one no longer applies, and you’ll have to alter your way of caring for them accordingly.

Here’s our guide to dealing with a Tik addict. Remember that you are equally vulnerable in trying times like this, and you should seek as much support and guidance as you need when dealing with the hardships of addiction and recovery.

Watch out for bizarre behaviour

It’s horrible to watch a loved one’s behaviour change erratically. When repeated patterns of negative behaviour and events start occurring, it’s not unreasonable to suspect it could be related to drug abuse. A drug addict will do all that they can to hide their drug use, so pay attention to those long unexplained absences. Follow up on excuses, and you’ll find the real reason for their behavioural change.

Take note of irregular spending

Drug addiction doesn’t come cheap, and when large sums of money start disappearing without a trace, it’s not unrealistic to suspect drug abuse. It’s not wrong to question a family member on where the money is going when they start frequently running short on funds, constantly needing financial help. Do some investigating, ask the hard and tough questions, and don’t feel guilty for making money a matter of contention.

Don’t enable their bad behaviour with kindness

This is a trap we often fall into; as friends and family of an addict, you’ll want to help them. Lending an addict the car after they’ve crashed theirs to get to work, or giving them money, only enables them to pursue their drugs. To help them it’s better to be firm in your kindness; don’t supply them with money when you don’t know exactly where it’s going, and don’t make it easier for them to acquire drugs by finding them new jobs every other day.

Resist the lies and manipulation

Something we have to come to grips with is that an addict, no matter their prior disposition, is a slave to their drug of choice. It’s all-consuming, and they’ll do whatever it takes to push people away or take from them to facilitate their drug use. They’ll lie to you to get what they want, and even attempt to manipulate you into agreeing with them or take the fault for their addiction. If an addict turns on you with lies and manipulation when you question them for their behaviour, stand firm. You don’t need to be taken for a ride, and you have the right to question them.

Protect your home and valuables

If it’s established or you have suspicions that your loved one is suffering from drug addiction, don’t feel guilty at the prospect of needing to protect your values and possessions. As much as it hurts to believe, an addict is not the same person they were before they started using. Addiction is all-consuming, and an addict will not be above stealing family heirlooms, cherished possessions, or electronics to pay for their habits. Change the locks at home, install a new security system, cancel your shared accounts and have a real discussion with your bank about protecting your finances. By cutting off any opportunity for them to acquire money for drugs, you are preventing them from continuing their bad habits.

Don’t approach the problem alone

You’ve finally reached this point of absolute certainty; your loved one is abusing Tik, and you know they’re a slave to their addiction. They’re not the same person, and they can’t fight the drug on their own.

It’s often hard and even shameful for families to admit to others that they’re dealing with an addict, and they don’t want to admit to friends, family or community members that they need assistance confronting the addict about their addiction.

Don’t be afraid to seek help. Community leaders and ministers are always on hand to assist in these matters, and holding a meeting with the addict to present your findings as a group is more powerful than confronting the issue alone. Especially if the addict has already turned to manipulation or dangerous behaviour.

Research the best rehab for them

Now that the abuse is out in the air, you may be lucky enough to have your loved one agree to pursue treatment. This is a monumental first step towards recovery, and it’s easy to feel urgent and desperate to get them in the nearest rehab as soon as time will allow.

But bear in mind that rehabs offer different approaches to the road to sobriety. Some offer short term treatment, others long term, and some offer post-rehab support while others don’t.

Closer is also more often than not the worst possible option, as they may run into familiar abusers from the drug community. By sending them far away from a familiar environment, you set them up for recovery free from triggers

So take the time to do your research; make phone calls to the rehabs you have in mind, speak to the parents, friends and family of those who have gone through treatment there. Ask the important questions about treatment, their methods, and what you can realistically expect from that treatment.

Once you’ve chosen your rehabilitation centre of choice, make a contact there, someone you can turn to for an honest opinion on their performance for your own peace of mind.

And most important of all… Don’t give up.

We come to our last and final piece of advice. Don’t give up hope.

The road to recovery for an addict is a long and difficult one, not just for the sufferer, but for the family as well. Relapse is an ever-looming threat for any addict, but Tik is an especially addictive ‘upper’ drug, and moments of stress, depression and breakdown are dangerous.

Your loved one may go through several relapses and stints in treatment, but don’t give up on them. Choosing the right drug rehabilitation treatment is key to breaking the cycle of addiction, and with time and love, your loved one can return to you.

Next Steps

We hope that you found these tips helpful and equipping when it comes to dealing with Tik Addicts.  If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient Programme, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.

Cocaine Use: The Side Effects

The Side Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine has very serious effects, but not just on the person using the drug, the damages inevitably reach all the people close to user such as family, friends and employers. Three key aspects of cocaine consequences are:

  1. How the drug-use damages relationships with loved ones
  2. How the drug use eats its way into the economic security of family and business
  3. The inevitability of a dependency and the need for treatment.

These are just three side effects of cocaine use, but the devastation always stretches further and deeper that those listed.

10 ways to stay sober during the holidays

Who said The Holidays were all fun and games? We’re guessing it wasn’t someone in recovery struggling to remain free from their drugs of addiction.

Family, food, presents, work, community events, and in some cases, travel can all add up to a huge amount of stress for anyone. Factor in an ongoing issue with drugs and alcohol and a history of turning to substances in order to manage stressful situations, and the holidays may feel like nothing more than an obstacle course with triggers for relapse at every turn. So, how can you get through The Holidays in addiction recovery with grace and strength? We offer you some tips here. Then, we invite your feedback or comments in the section below.

Is Instant Addiction Real ?

Is it possible for someone to become instantly addicted to a drug?

Most people might say no. First individuals must try a drug and realize that they like it. Then they might start to use the drug more frequently. Eventually, once they have used the drug enough, their brain begins to lose the ability to function without it. They spend all night dreaming about their next fix. They miss work. They miss birthdays. They miss appointments. There are no consequences that seem to outweigh getting high. This is addiction.

But what if individuals skip a few steps? What if they try the drug once and know immediately they are hooked, and that the urge to use again and again will likely never leave?

Instant or “born” addicts are people who claim they were hooked on a drug after using it for the first time. For these “instant addicts,” the first exposure to a drug is defined as a transformative experience. David Carr, a recently deceased writer for The New York Times (and a recovering drug addict), described the first time he tried cocaine as a “Helen Keller hand-under-the-water moment.” People who suffer from an instant addiction often describe the drug as filling a hole inside their mind that they didn’t even know was there in the first place.

As it turns out, the “hole-inside-their-mind” metaphor is surprisingly accurate.

The Opposite Of Addiction Is Not Sobriety

Johann Hari, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” has been exploring the true cause of addiction, something he believes is largely misunderstood.

In a Ted Talk filmed last month, Hari challenged the belief that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, saying patients who receive painkillers after medical procedures but have no issue getting off the drugs largely disprove that theory.

“If what we believe about addiction is right, if those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks, what should happen? They should become addicts,” he said. “It doesn’t happen.”

What Hari believes to be the cause of addiction – be it drug addiction, gambling addiction or even addiction to your mobile device — is a lack of human connection.

“Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond. And when we’re happy and healthy we’ll bond and connect with each other,” Hari explained. “But if you can’t do that — because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life — you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature, that’s what we want as human beings.”

Watch Hari’s Ted Talk above.

“For a hundred years now we’ve been singing war songs about addicts,” Hari said. “I think all along we should have been singing love songs to them. Because the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Read Johann Hari’s blog for The Huffington Post, “The Likely Cause Of Addiction Has Been Discovered, And It Is Not What You Think,” here. Hari will be speaking on August 26th in Edinburgh, in early September in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and in mid-September in Mexico City. For details of these events go towww.chasingthescream.com.

Wrapping it up

We hope that you found this article fascinating and helpful. If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient programmes, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.

Cross Addiction

If you understand the fundamentals of addiction, you’ll understand that it was never about the drugs or alcohol or other self-destructive behaviours.

What characterizes addiction is the obsessive and compulsive nature of the behaviour and also what happens when we do act out on that behaviour. We start a process that is exclusive to our condition, POWERLESSNESS. Powerlessness means that we lose control and our lives become unmanageable. Unmanageability can be characterized by looking at certain areas of life.

Socially, Financially, Spiritually and emotionally. If we take an honest look at those areas of our lives, we will see, specific examples where the powerlessness has affected our very core.
Cross addiction is when you swop one drug of choice for another, quiet plainly it’s just allowing the manifestation of obsession to filter into different areas.
The way the brain works in addiction is like this. Our pleasure centers get overloaded with dopamine to name but one chemical.
Dopamine is a brain chemical involved in many different functions including movement, motivation, reward – and addiction. Nearly all drugs of abuse directly or indirectly increase dopamine in the pleasure and motivation pathways and in so doing, alter the normal communication between neurons.