Understanding substance abuse in South Africa

145
Substance abuse South Africa Source: Google Images

Substance abuse is a social issue that has plagued the Mother City and the country for decades. The City is now appealing to the public to support a petition aimed at fighting the war on drugs.

Recovery Direct, a private addiction care centre based in Cape Town, writes that the most commonly abused substances in the country are alcohol, dagga, cocaine, and mandrax. They also report that about 15% of South Africans are said to have a drug problem.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) is a related issue and is said to affect at least 3 million people of the South African population. In 2016, chairperson of the SA Medical Association Mzukisi Grootboom said South Africa has the highest instances of FAS globally.

Grootboom added that the UN has cited South Africa as the regional hub for drug trafficking. According to a 2017 report by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), many drug trafficking routes originate in South Africa. The country is also a transit point and/or destination for drug trafficking.

The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was commemorated on June 26, with a theme of ‘Better Knowledge for Better Care’. This theme aimed to improve the understanding of drug problems and how in turn, better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health.

The City is now encouraging residents to support the Children Against Drug Abuse (CADA) Change.org petition started by the Kosmos Angels and Krugersdorp War Against Drugs (KWAD), which appeals to the government to deal with the scurge of substance abuse.

“Kosmos Angels and Krugersdorp War Against Drugs (KWAD) took hands in trying to make a difference in 2019. We call on all people involved with the treatment of substance abuse as well as all family members, friends and loved ones of addicts to please assist us in our endeavor to lobby Parliament for stricter and more effective laws in the fight against drug abuse,” reads the petition.

The City of Cape Town has been actively working to combat drug abuse, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There is free alcohol and drug treatment available at the City of Cape Town’s eight community-based alcohol and drug treatment sites, but due to restrictions, they have had to find new and different ways of rendering services.

Under Level 5, the City Health Matrix sites were the only alcohol and drug treatment services available to those seeking assistance and the eight sites based across the Metro continued offering services in the traditional and non-traditional form. The sites are located in Brooklyn, Delft, Eerste River, Parkwood, Scottsdene, Khayelitsha, Manenberg, and Tafelsig.

“The service has been challenged by community unrest, public violence and at some sites clients are reluctant to attend sessions because they must be screened and potentially tested for COVID-19. This has given our therapists an opportunity to discuss the importance of screening and the need to disclose accurate information,” reads a statement from the City.

“Seeking treatment for alcohol or drug abuse shows courage and strength. I want to encourage those who are caught in the grip of abuse to make use of the free service offered by the City.”

If you would like to sign the petition, click HERE.

  • For help with addiction, please call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline at 0800 HELP 4 U (0800 4357 4 8).