‘Drug addiction a mental health crisis,’ says Costa
OLEBOGENG MOTSE
09:56 Tue, 27 Aug 2019
‘Drug addiction a mental health crisis,’ says Costa  | News Article
Costa Carastavrakis PHOTO: Olebogeng Motse
Memoirist and recovered crystal meth addict Costa Carastavrakis is of the view that decriminalising drugs is the one way that South Africans will begin to see drug addiction as the mental health crisis that it is.


Carastavrakis’ journey from a functional alcoholic teenager to his full-blown addiction to crystal meth is outlined in humour laden detail in his recently released memoir, ‘I am Costa, from Meth to Marathons’. Speaking to OFM News during the Bloemfontein leg of his nationwide book tour, Carastavrakis says the only way to beat the scourge of drugs in society is to place addicts into programmes, not in jail cells. “Drug addicts should not be shamed, drug addicts should not be jailed. I could have been one of those statistics. If you’d put me in jail, I would have been exposed to more drugs, harder drugs, but I wasn’t arrested and got into recovery. Decriminalising drugs is incredibly important,” stresses Carastavrakis.

The memoirist references Portugal’s much-revered approach to dealing with its Heroine epidemic which kicked off in the 80s. In 2001, Portugal decriminalised all drugs – Carastavrakis says they specifically decriminalised drug possession and usage. “It is not illegal to be found with drugs on you, but it is illegal to deal drugs and import it,” explains the author. This move reportedly decreased instances of overdosing, HIV infection and other drug-related crime. He says it is important to not expose mentally ill drug addicts to other criminal elements, it is rather beneficial to place them into programmes, he maintains.

Carastavrakis’ book delves deeply into his recovery, revealing how he ended up being the self-confessed health nut that he currently is. He says when it comes to health, it’s important to take it one step at a time. He says he started off walking around the block and is now a triathlon and marathon athlete.

 

OFM News


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