New drug beats heroin addiction

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July 16 2012 at 10:29am
By Lynnette Johns

After facing an insurmountable battle, Janine Hatem has beaten her heroin addiction, using an American-made drug not readily available in SA.

Our non addictive anti craving medication can only be legally imported by a rehabilitation facility in Chatsworth, Durban.

The Medicines Control Council is fast-tracking the registration of the non addictive anti craving medication, which removes the craving for heroin.

Until recently, Hatem was one of thousands of Capetonians hooked on the dangerous drug. According to Andreas Plüddemann, a senior scientist at the Medical Research Council, the number of people seeking help for heroin addiction is steadily climbing. A UN drug report also notes a steady increase in heroin use.

At some addiction centres, like the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre and the Sultan Bahu centre in Mitchells Plain, 40 percent of their patients are hooked on heroin.

Steve Thompson, who runs a number of rehabilitation facilities, said there was a definite increase in the number of people using and seeking help for heroin.

Hatem, a mother, started using heroin five years ago.

Last year she heard about the non addictive anti craving medication, a tablet or injection which takes away the cravings. She has been using it successfully for six months.

Prakash Naidoo, medical director at the Assisted Recovery Centres of Africa, has permission to bring non addictive anti craving medication into the country.

He has placed 1 400 people on treatment over the past four years. Both he and Thompson caution that it is not a “magic bullet”; it will only work if the root of the addiction is dealt with, which often requires ongoing therapy.

The non addictive anti craving medication currently costs between R1 000 and R1 200 a month. Naidoo estimates the price will drop by as much as half once the drug is registered. – Cape Argus