Drug consumption in South Africa is currently twice the world
norm and the use of cocaine and dagga has increased by 20%
in two years, the Central Drugs Authority (CDA) said.
"The drug problem in South Africa remains very serious with drug
usage being twice the world norm in most cases...and we are only
dealing with what we know about...this is only the tip of the
iceberg," said Dr David Bayever of the CDA, a government drug
In 2006 2.52 million people used dagga and this increased to 3.2
million in 2008, said Bayever speaking at the release in Pretoria
of the United Nations 2009 World Drug Report.
The use of cocaine increased from 0.24 million in 2006 to 0.29
million in 2008.
However the use of opiates such as heroin decreased by 20% during the same time period.
15% of SA population has drug problem
Accordingly in 1996, 1% of South Africans were in treatment for heroin abuse while in 2008 those in treatment for this addiction increased between 8 – 24%. The number of South Africans in treatment for cocaine addiction increased from 1.5% in 1996 to 17.5% in 2008.
Bayever said that 15% of South Africa's population had a
drug problem and that the country needed to change its approach to
dealing with the issue as social structure continued to change.
There were more single mothers raising children in the country
at present than before and child-headed households had doubled
between 2002 and 2007.
An increase in child-headed households from 701 000 in 2007 to
5.7 million was expected by 2015.
This would have negative effects on these children in terms of
their behaviour and achievement, possibly leading to drug use.
Fighting organised crime key to fighting drugs
The Fifa Soccer World Cup was also likely to bring an increase
in demand as well as drug trafficking while the current recession
in South Africa may not necessarily affect drug users.
"Where there is a problem of substance abuse, cost may not
always be a factor...users may change their drug of choice or there
may be an increase in crime to sustain their habits," he said.
United Nations regional representatives for Southern Africa from
the office on Drugs and Crime, Dr Jonathan Lucas, said tackling
organised crime was the key to resolving the continent's drug
He identified west African narcotics cartels as threats as they
traffic drugs from Asia as well as Latin America particularly to
"The challenge for Africa is not to say no to drugs but to say
no to organised crime," he said.
The threat drug use posed for the continent was that it promoted
poverty, lack of opportunity and despair. Organised crime, as the root of the drug problem, fuelled corruption, political instability, it emptied Africa of its wealth, impeded development and chased away foreign investment, Lucas said.
Bayever said that they played a small part in contributing to
worldwide drug use which showed that drugs cultivated in the
country were used and consumed in South Africa. – (Sapa, July 2009)
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