Some Madiba magic helps ad­dicts feel spe­cial for a day

The Star Early Edition - - MANDELA DAY - SAKHILE NDLAZI

NYAOPE users in Mamelodi were once again in the spot­light – but this time for a dif­fer­ent rea­son.

Yes­ter­day, they were pam­pered by the Con­cerned Tsh­wane Liquor Traders As­so­ci­a­tion as part of Man­dela Day, and the pam­per­ing started with break­fast which in­cluded bread, jam, peanut but­ter and juice.

About 150 drug users hud­dled around a tent at Den­neboom sta­tion to fill their stom­achs.

For lunch, they were served grilled chicken, steak and pap.

For dessert, they were given a pick of three items of cloth­ing from a do­na­tion bay by lo­cals, which in­cluded win­ter jack­ets, jeans, shoes, belts and hats.

The group were en­ter­tain­ment by a choir, which kept them mes­merised with hymns.

The pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion, Oupa Mthombeni, said that in com­mem­o­rat­ing Man­dela Day, the or­gan­i­sa­tion wanted to do things dif­fer­ently, and open their hearts to drug ad­dicts be­cause they of­ten felt iso­lated from the com­mu­nity.

“We thought maybe we should try a dif­fer­ent ap­proach and make them see the light again – feed them and show them love. Who knows, maybe they might kick the habit,” he said.

Mthombeni said the use of nyaope in Mamelodi had spi­ralled out of con­trol, and a lot needed to be done to curb the scourge.

He said in­tro­duc­ing the con­cept of nu­tri­tion into an ad­dic­tion treat­ment pro­gramme was not an easy task.

Mthombeni said ad­dicts in early re­cov­ery were not ready for healthy be­hav­iour change as most were try­ing to get past the im­me­di­ate cri­sis of ad­dic­tion and life ad­just­ments of ab­sti­nence. “In fact, so­bri­ety can mag­nify pre-ex­ist­ing dys­func­tional eat­ing be­hav­iour. Many ad­dicts be­gan us­ing drugs and al­co­hol in their early teens and never de­vel­oped a healthy re­la­tion­ship to food,” he said.

Mthombeni spent his af­ter­noon with young peo­ple who were fight­ing sub­stance abuse.

So­cial work­ers af­fil­i­ated to re­hab cen­tres were also present to as­sist ad­dicts in their bid to kick their habits.

Mthombeni en­cour­aged the youth to stop do­ing drugs as they de­stroyed their lives and fu­tures.

“We need to as­sist young peo­ple to kick the habit (of drugs). It’s a dev­as­tat­ing habit.”

He said young peo­ple should not use the ex­cuse of hav­ing a dif­fi­cult child­hood as a rea­son to do drugs.

One of the drug users, who pre­ferred to re­main anony­mous, said he first learnt about nyaope last year in prison but was not in­ter­ested.

He said he went through a rough patch af­ter his re­lease, which led him to use nyaope as an es­cape. He wanted to quit drugs, but the stom­ach cramps were just too un­bear­able.

“Be that as it may, we thank Bra Oupa for think­ing of us. Man­dela Day is ded­i­cated to giv­ing back to those less for­tu­nate and iso­lated.”

Another ad­dict said: “He has made us feel spe­cial.”

Con­cerned Tsh­wane Liquor Traders As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Oupa Mthombeni with Thapelo Sehlapelo and Boi­tumelo Rankapole.

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