The De Deur Health Centre has been inundated with calls and patients since opening its doors four years ago. The centre, in the Vaal, is South Africa’s first to cater for female patients struggling with drug abuse. Being outpatient in nature means that patients commute there daily. But, renovations are underway and once that is done and the centre, run by Crescent of Hope – a Muslim organisation – secures the necessary regulatory approval from health officials, it will operate around the clock.
“On a daily basis we see girls from all walks of life. To give you some idea, our youngest patient that we’re seeing at the moment is 13 and eldest is 69,” Moulana Riyaad Limbada told Sabahul Khair on Monday. More shockingly, Crescent of Hope’s male-only rehab centre once accepted a boy aged just seven. Moulana said kids this young, seen as safe agents because they don’t get searched by the police, are targeted and recruited to courier drugs by merchants who then pay them in kind (or drugs).
“(The problem) is across the spectrum of age… colour, creed, religion. This is the scourge that has hit our country tremendously. The nature of the drugs: heroine, crystal meth, crack cocaine (all) highly addictive. Withdrawals are intense,” Limbada told Cii listeners.
The fact that the centre is yet to open day and night has had an adverse effect, Moulana said. “It’s compounded our efforts because the sooner we get them in an environment where they can be able to be detoxified totally – mind, body and soul, Insh’Allah – the better chance we have of reconnecting them to Allah and his Rasul SAW and then perhaps on the way to recovery and rehabilitation.”
Limbada expressed shock at how easy ordinary people fall prey to different types of addictions, adding that, with this in mind, the De Deur Health Centre’s attitude is to tackle, not just drug addiction, but also lifestyle addiction. He noted that, for instance, some people can only enjoy their meals if it goes with a glass of Coke. The soft drink isn’t quite a healthy beverage and the number of people who suffer from its side effects is downside keep drinking because they are addicted to nicotine.
“Now imagine when you come to drugs of intense nature like heroine and crystal meth. (Look) at the numbers. Although people are still in denial in many quarters but I don’t think there’s a single extended family, especially so in the Muslim community in South Africa, is not affected by some family member that is on drugs or who’s trying to (quit) – or something to do with (drugs),” Moulana said decrying the fact that the community tends to avoid or hide the issue.
“There’s definitely a drug problem amongst the girls – and the Muslim girls. More so we’re dealing with that, you know, predominantly, although we’re open to all (religious and ethnic groups). They’re all coming to us from all (walks of life). So there’s definitely a big problem amongst the girls. We’re totally inundated. The absolute need and necessity for an all-female Muslim center, as such, should highlight that already,” he said. “Parents are in denial.”
This is probably because parents get shocked when they discover that their children, no less daughters, are addict. On the other hand, some parents see their children’s drug addiction as a bad reflection on themselves and thus prefer to not discuss the matter openly, Moulana said.
Taking a look at some of the reasons driving addiction in the corporate world, where some of his highly-qualified patients come from, Limbada said one of the De Deur patients said she became addicted after discovering that her junior colleagues were outperforming and “flying past” her all because they were using enhancers such as coke and tik. “For her it was the case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’,” Limbada told Cii, adding some people use tik, and other types of appetite-killing drugs, for instant slimming.
Another reason spurring drug abuse is it’s become socially acceptable, thanks to the media notably Hollywood films, while many countries are legalising drugs, according to Moulana. “How many of the listeners that are listening now wouldn’t agree that, you know, they tried some sort of thing – whether it be a little bit of weed or whatever it was in their youth? Alhamdullilah you managed to get out, it was an experience in your life and you carried on,” he said.
But things have changed radically in the past two or three decades when weed was the coolest yet most-dangerous drug. “The nature of the drugs today, just a little experimentation is instant addiction and the guy gets caught up and now he’s reaching out for help,” Moulana warned.
“By us sweeping it under the carpet by denying, by trying to find other excuses we’re doing that (family member – whether a daughter, son, wife or spouse) a great disservice… We’re past the stage of judging families and judging people on the fact that he’s taken drugs or he has succumbed to the addiction of drugs,” he said. “This is so widespread in our society.”