By Janus Snyders
The abuse of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine has increased exponentially in South Africa over the last 10 years and is not just limited to big cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town anymore.
According to Andreas Plüddemann, a Senior Scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit (ADARU) of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), towns like Port Elizabeth, East London, Nelspruit and Witbank are also experiencing problems with heroin abuse.
The Monitoring Alcohol and Drug Abuse Trends in South Africa Report (July 1996 - June 2008) by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) revealed that in 2007 more than 11 percent of six hundred patients treated for drug abuse in Mpumalanga stated heroin as their primary substance of abuse. This is four percent higher than in 2003. In KwaZulu-Natal the treatment of heroin as primary substance of abuse formed 9.1 percent of all cases recorded in the province at the end of June 2006. By June 2008, the figure had risen to more than 22 percent, primarily linked to a severe localised problem with heroin under the name of ‘sugars’ in Chatsworth, Durban.
In an interview with the Web and Media Technologies Platform of the SAMRC, Plüddemann who is also coordinating SACENDU said: “Reports have also indicated that the proportion of learners who have experimented with drugs like dagga1and ‘tik2’ has also been increasing over the last fifteen years.”
“One major factor that contributes to the trend is the availability of new, harder and different drugs, and the marketing of those drugs by local drug gangs” said Plüddemann and that “the cultural shift amongst learners that make them more ‘ready’ for experimenting with drugs is quite a worrying trend”.
As described by Plüddemann as a ‘diverse issue’, various drugs have various psychological effects on different people, but “the most common psychological effect that comes through with most of the drugs ranging from alcohol, dagga to heroin and ‘tik’ is that of depression.” Certain drugs could also lead to delusions, hallucinations and behavioural problems like extreme aggression.
In the interview Plüddemann encouraged people who are addicted to drugs to contact the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) or visit their local doctor or clinic to find more information about the various clinics that specialise in treating drug abuse.
Listen to the full interview with Andreas Plüddemann. Part 1 deals with alcohol and drug abuse in South Africa. Part 2 deals with drug trafficking between South Africa and other countries and regions of the world.
This article and podcasts have undergone an editorial process.
Andreas Plüddemann at firstname.lastname@example.org; or
Janus Snyders at email@example.com.
1 Street name for Cannabis
2 Street name for Methamphetamine
Date: 3 July 2009