Tik is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world and nowhere more concentrated than on the Cape Flats in the Western Province of South Africa where in 1 in every 10 children have tried it. It’s reached my little home town of Knysna, 450km up the Eastern coast, eating at our slogan, “The Beautiful Town”, and scaring me shitless.
I’m forced to refer to outside resources as the reason for me blogging is because of the dire lack of local information which, in turn, suggests a dire lack of action.
Around the world, methamphetamine is known by it’s short name, meth. In South Africa, its called Tik because of the sound the drug makes, in crystalline form, when being heated into gas for inhalation. That’s the most common route; tik in a light bulb that’s been adapted as a pipe. Tik is easy on delivery. You could place it on tin foil and heat it from below. You can inject, snort or swallow it. You can even stick it up your arse or in your vagina. It depends what you want it for; the slow high for alertness or the rush to be stronger than the life you live. The rush, the choice of Knysna, is the scarier, more addictive route.
It only takes one or two hits to get addicted. And at R50 for a straw’s worth, there’s no better deal, for you can get high up to 3 times, anything from 3 to 8 hours each time. It depends on the purity but nowadays extra death is in the mix as more poisons are added. But here’s the traditional mix:
- Ephedrine (cold medication such as Grandpa)
- Toluene (brake cleaner)
- Ether (engine starter)
- Sulfuric Acid (drain cleaner)
- Red Phosphorus (matches)
- Salt (table/rock)
- Lithium (batteries)
- Trichloroethane (gun cleaner)
- Anhydrous Ammonia (farm fertilizer)
- Sodium Metal, Methanol/Alcohol (petrol additives)
- Hydrochloric Acid (pool cleaner)
- MSM (cutting agent)
- Sodium Hydroxide (lye)
- Alcohol (Isopropyl or rubbing alcohol)
- Acetone (paint thinner)
- Cat Litter
Meth labs are the best way to go for the quality result but for a simple, less clean solution there’s the American Shake n’ Bake; add ingredients into a plastic bottle, shake and release fumes. Repeat for 40 minutes until a brown version of Tik remains.
It’ll eventually make you paranoid and schizophrenic. You’ll have sex with the wrong people. You’ll tear your skin, looking for invisible bugs beneath it. You might have strokes. You’ll lose your memory. You’ll lose your teeth…
Why the hell would someone want to ingest that, you might ask? Because we live in a zeitgeist of helplessness. The children of the poorer, non-white communities that make up the vast majority of Knysna, have few social activities, lousy education and, if they don’t become one of the 73% of South Africans under 35 years of age who are unemployed [source COSATU], then they’re likely to face a “bright” future as a maid or waiter etc. Most children in Knysna do not have a future. Tik stimulates their nervous system through the increased release of the pleasure transmitter, dopamine. They’re more confident, sexier and happier – why the hell wouldn’t they want to get high?
Like the Cape Flats, Tik first took root in the coloured suburb of Hornlee. I’ve spoken to some of its residents who’ve expressed fear and say that it’s not safe to walk on the streets at night. It was rumoured that Tik had jumped, like a crazy chicken, across the N2 into the neighbouring suburb of Khayalethu. A policeman confirmed that. And if you’re white, don’t let me mislead you into thinking that your kids are safe and that only socio-economics come into play. Peer pressure has accompanied every generation. And i know 2 white men who had Tik play havoc with their lives. But, admittedly, the “previous” victims of apartheid are most at risk.
Andreas Plüddemann, the senior scientist at the Medical Research Council’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Group, estimates that the Western Cape now has 150 000 to 250 000 addicts. Children as young as 10 are using it. The Biggest addiction group is age 15-19! Sometimes 3 generations are involved i.e. child, parent and grandparent.
I told you that it’s scary! So what is being done about it in Knysna? Not much, as far as I know. I haven’t had a teenager relate a tik prevention program at school. I don’t see adult education being advertised in local papers. There are no posters up in shops or at the mall.
So I popped down to the underfunded KADC (Knysna Alcohol & Drug Abuse Centre) three times over the past 2 weeks. Friendly people working there but all they could do is tell me that it’s a big problem and show me a few words about Tik on a flyer that was listing the way all drugs can be taken. I was hoping to gain statistics but they said that they never had any and, with regards crime, hadn’t managed to get those from the police.
So, as you’ve come to expect, I included it in a questioner to the powers that be; councillors from the ANC, COPE and DA…and the Independent. With regards to every importance in Knysna, our rulers must provide a plan…and if there isn’t one, be encouraged to lead the way. The Knysna DA and ANC have acknowledged receiving them. Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman smsed that she will return them next week. If only the mayor, Georlene Wolmarans, were as responsive about…well…anything [update Aug 19 2013 – still no response – our leaders are useless].
- What are the Addiction Statistics?
- What are the Crime Statistics?
- Are we treating the Cause?
- How are we treating the Symptoms?
But it’s not only up to them. It’s up to all of us citizens to preserve the beauty of our beautiful town. You can simply start talking about it. That leads to questions which lead to answers.
From my side, I hope that I informed you. I’ve also offered KADAC a website at cost price and put them in contact with someone who’ll consider sponsoring that small amount. I also went looking for solutions on the web and discovered the Montana Meth Project in the USA which doesn’t seek to rehabilitate but rather stop kids from taking it the first time. “Not even Once!” is their mantra. I downloaded all their media (mp3s, posters and videos) and gave a copy to KADAC and one politician (so far) with the idea that we make a local version utilizing Knysna’s many creative photographers and videographers. It’s just a spark of an idea that will require many helping hands and a budget. I will share more of the Meth Project’s actions with you in the next blog.
We also need to know where we stand, as a municipality, within the framework of a national drug plan that is supposed to be kick-started this year.
As I realize the challenges we need to face as a town, I’m daunted. Digging to the heart of Knysna may mean taking on one clogged artery at a time. Right now, I’m just trying to see the whole body.
Since the DA won our local elections, it’s appropriate that I leave you with this emphatic quote by their national leader, Helen Zille: “Tik addiction is dreadful. It causes people to become almost violent psychopaths after a while…it’s so dangerous; easy to obtain, highly addictive…devastating consequences!” It’s just a pity that her words don’t translate into her telling her Knysna subordinates to do something about it.
Please read the follow-up article: Tik – Let’s Fight It!