Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jun 2016
Source: Citizen, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 The Citizen
Author: Denise Williams


Cape Town - The abuse of illegal and over-the-counter drugs was 
seemingly growing and needed to be dealt with urgently, said the 
chairperson of the SA Medical Association, Mzukisi Grootboom.

He added that South Africa continued to be the regional hub for drug 
trafficking in and out of the country.

"Drug dependency, in all its forms, is a massive problem that creates 
serious health, social, legal, and economic problems for the country. 
We need to stand together to deal with this and say enough is enough."

Grootboom said the United Nations recognised South Africa as the 
regional hub for drug trafficking, and the largest transit zone for 
illicit drugs in Southern Africa. This was unsettling, he said.

"South Africa is battling not only the scourge of certain uniquely 
South African illicit 'street drugs', such as nyaope, but also the 
increasing abuse of legal medications, such as ARVs, pain killers and 
cough syrup, leading to what has been called 'silent addictions'."

He said South Africa also had the highest incidence of foetal alcohol 
syndrome in the world, rampant teenage drug abuse, unemployment and a 
culture of violence.

Statistics revealed that the most commonly used drugs are alcohol, 
dagga, cocaine and Mandrax.

Recently nyaope (also called whoonga), which is a mix of some 
scheduled drugs and antiretroviral medication, has become 
dramatically popular in the country's townships.

Studies also put the rate of alcohol use among South Africans at 
nearly 40%. The prevalence of tobacco use was at about 30%, while 
dagga was at about 8%.

The SA National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS) found that 15% of 
pupils admitted to using over-the-counter drugs to get high.

The same study found that 11.5% of pupils had tried at least one 
drug, such as heroin, Mandrax, sugars (a mix of residual cocaine and 
heroin) or tik.

The YRBS said 50% of the patients seen at specialist treatment 
facilities had cannabis as the primary substance of abuse. For heroin 
the proportion was 8%-23%.

"The abuse of all forms of drugs is a huge problem that needs urgent 
attention, and we applaud the SA National Council for Alcoholism and 
Drug Dependence's efforts to deal with it," Grootboom said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom