More than 35 million people around the world are addicted to drugs. That’s according to the latest report from the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime.
Friday was the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – a scourge destroying families and communities.
Users say substances are easily available. Almondreaux Kaylas (35) started dabbling in drugs at the age of 12. His addiction went on for 28 years.
The father of two says he even suffered third degree burn wounds.
“I wasn’t forced to smoke. I can’t say I come from an underprivileged family, because my mother and father gave me everything I needed in life. It’s just a choice I made to smoke. I wanted to fit in with my peers and that resulted in me being addicted to Mandrax, Tik, Alcohol, Dagga and CAT,” says Kaylas.
Family members bore the brunt of his addiction.
“We went through a very difficult time, because Almondreaux was using drugs constantly. For one day, he will smoke like six times a day. We once found him on the grass and he almost drowned. He was stealing from the family. They had to hide everything in the house, like food everything just to get his next fix,” says his aunt Valdene Lloyd.
Kaylas lost his job, family and children, but he says he has now turned the corner.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t want to go to a rehabilitation centre and my mother had to take out a restraining order for me to go and I went as involuntary, and when I got there I realised that they gave me tools to recognise who I really am.”
The Northern Cape Social Development Department says it has limited resources to fight drug abuse.
While community members report drug lords, they say some police officers are in cahoots with the dealers.
“I can’t deny that. It might be possible. If they have information about police officials who are involved in criminal activities, especially dealing with drugs, they are free to approach us, so that those members can be dealt with,” says Northern Cape Police Spokesperson, Mohale Ramatseba.
Kaylas says police can work hard to clampdown on dealers or families can beg and threaten, but the onus lies on the addict to take the first step to quit.
“My advice for other addicts out there is I know it’s not easy and you know, you wouldn’t want to admit there is a problem, but I can assure you that there is a problem and without you acknowledging it, you never come out of the hole that the addiction has on you,” says Kaylas.
Kaylas believe talking about his addiction will help others. He says, for now, his focus is to restore his dignity and to regain his family’s trust.