While South African drug abuse statistics are alarmingly
inconsistent, Cathy Vos, SANCA co-ordinator, says it is clear that drug abuse is on
the rise, particularly among youngsters.
Recent reports from the South African Community Epidemiology
Network on Drug use (SACENDU) suggest that cannabis and alcohol are the most
commonly abused drugs.
South African Medical Research Council chief specialist
scientist in their alcohol and drug abuse unit, Bronwyn Meyers, stated that 11%
(5.7million people) of the South African population will suffer from an
addiction disorder in their lifetime.
“Add to that the
‘locally formulated’ drug whoonga or nyaope (mixture of heroin and dagga), along
with the rising use of heroin, cocaine (crack) tik (methamphetamine) and you
have a recipe for destruction and early death,” says Vos.
Highly addictive drug
Whoonga – also called wunga or nyaope – is a potent and
highly addictive mixture of marijuana, heroin and HIV medications. “The mixture
costs around R20 on the streets, but users quickly reach the point of needing
more and more, and the drug becomes unaffordable. Addicts are often forced to
turn to crime to accommodate their habit, making the social issues even more
In 2012, Dr David Bayever from the government drug control
organisation CDA was quoted as saying that that at least 15 percent of South
Africans have a drug problem and that the number is expected to rise. “While some
drugs are produced directly in South Africa, it is also a major trans-shipment
hub for importing and exporting them.”
In an effort to highlight the dangers of drugs and the value
of knowledge about them, the South African National Council on Alcoholism &
Drug Dependence (SANCA) is participating in International Drug Day during the
week of 26 June 2013. The Official Global Slogan for the International Day the
week 26 June 2013 is "Make health your new high in life, not drugs".
Looking at the value
of your life
“The slogan ‘Make health your new high in life, not drugs’
was adopted to encourage people to look at the value of their life and how
quickly it can be lost through drug use. It’s also important to note that it’s
not just drugs like heroin and whoonga that can steal your life, but over the
counter (OTC) medications and steroids too.”
In its quest to be the most effective organisation in the
field of prevention and treatment of chemical dependence in South Africa, SANCA
offers in- and out-patient treatment options, as well as Adolescent Centres
around South Africa. “Besides detoxification, our services include intensive
group, family and individual therapy, medical management, children’s groups,
drug testing and aftercare,” Vos says.
With drug addiction, prevention is always better than cure:
“By the time people get to SANCA, their lives are unmanageable and their
physical and mental health is usually bad. Parents and other family members
need to talk to their children about drug abuse early, as the age at which
people are becoming exposed to drugs is far younger now than ever before,” explains
SANCA has 30 SANCA affiliates and 47 service centres nationally,
prevention programmes and community development is a high priority at all SANCA
“Encouraging ‘getting high on life’ rather than drugs could
include assisting youngsters to explore sports and creative activities, where
their energies can be spent on healthy pursuits,” he adds.
For more information on International Drug Day or the
support SANCA offers, call SANCA on 0861 476 22 or any Sanca office around the