The exponential rise in SA.s drug use

The abuse of drugs in Southern Africa is at an all-time high.
Make no mistake it’s a Drug war.

The exponential rise in SA.s drug use has been observed in recent years, with hard drugs such as MDMA, cocaine, heroin, crystal meth and mandrax (quaaludes) becoming increasingly popular.

see >>here for a list and description of abused substances>>


Unemployment, reductions in values (family, cultural, and societal), social transformations, and other variables relating to the pandemic have all contributed to the rise in drug use among a population facing numerous obstacles as a result of the massive political shift that led to contemporary democratic society. For example, nightclubs provided new venues with private rooms in which drug use is not only overlooked but frequently encouraged and provided.

The Effect on our Youth in the Drug war

Young adults see drugs and drug use effect on moralities, the associated dangerous and casual sex as not just liberation, but also a real escape from their sometimes terrible conditions, therefore they frequented these establishments as a chance to ‘escape.’ Unfortunately, the resulting excessive drug usage enables related mental issues, physical damage and STDs, including HIV thrive in this type of environment.
Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres, Johannesburg’s Best Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre, aims to not only help individuals in desperate need, but also to enlighten and educate others about drug usage and mental health in South Africa’s Drug war. We need to look at drug use statistics to get a better understanding of drug misuse in South Africa and why the country is fighting it. Here are some of the key takeaways from the World Health Organisation.

South Africa’s Drug War Usage Figures

the war on drugs

Recent data has been sketchy at best – but based on dated data and Houghton Houses extensive experience in the Drug war’s, we estimate that in the region of 16% of all South Africans have a drug use problem. Over 14% of the population has taken drugs at some point in their lives, according to the Human Science Research Council According to the HSRC, we believe the figures are closer to 20% -It’s not a pleasant future outlook in the South African Drug war.

According to SAPS dated data, drug-related offences grew by 123 % from just 2004 to 2013, while driving under the influence of alcohol increased by 148 % over the same period. Alcohol was determined to be involved in 54 % of violence-related deaths and 52 % of transportation-related deaths during this time period, according to the national injury mortality surveillance system’s post-mortem studies.

Recent Hospital Drug War-Related Data

One-third of patients in five trauma units in Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth tested positive for cannabis, 15% for metaxalone, and 14% for white pipe, according to a study (combination of cannabis and metaxalone). According to the same study, “violence was substantially linked to substance use: 67 % of trauma cases in these hospitals were associated to alcohol, 45 % to illicit drug use, 84 % to at least one substance, 40 % to cannabis usage, and 17 % to white pipe use.” (According to the HSRC this data is reasonably up to date )

International Investigation into our Drug War

In 2015 Dr Paul Seale of Mercer University School of Medicine in the United States investigated drug use in South Africa and discovered some surprising findings… Substance abuse was found in 3.9 % of the population, while dependency was found in 0.6 %. “There were high levels of inhalant usage among youth,” Seale says. Cannabis (dagga) was the drug of choice for individuals receiving substance abuse treatment, whereas methamphetamine (tik) consumption was widespread in the Western and Eastern Cape. There was also a noteworthy increase in the use of over-the-counter and prescription medications, particularly among young people, including the world’s greatest use of methaqualone (Mandrax/Quaalude).” (Review by the HSRC)

International Investigation into our Drug War

South Africa’s Drug War Abuse

South Africa’s Drug War usage has increased significantly faster here than in the rest of the world, according to “From 2000 to 2018, drug usage in underdeveloped countries increased at a far faster rate than in industrialized countries. Adolescents and young adults make up the majority of drug users, and they are also the most sensitive to the negative consequences of drugs. According to the most recent estimates, cannabis is the most extensively used drug in South Africa’s Drug War, among all narcotics tracked by the UN.” (BusinessTech review source). The numbers are startling:

  1. Cannabis is used by about 3.7 % of the population of South Africa, followed by cocaine (1%), amphetamines (1%), opioids (0.5%), opiates (0.4%), ecstasy-type drugs (0.3%), and prescribed opiates (0.3%). (0.1 % ).
  2. South Africa lacks a centralized or regular drug survey from which to obtain up-to-date numbers, with the UN’s estimates based on Annual Report Questionnaires from 2008 and 2011.
  3. A study of 1,000 persons being treated for tuberculosis in South Africa discovered that those in poverty were more likely to be drug users.
  4. Heroin is imported from the Middle East, while cocaine is imported from South America and transported through South Africa to the rest of Africa.
  5. Cannabis was the most commonly tested substance by criminals in both violent and property offences. There is a link between drug use and acquisitive crime — arrestees for property crimes have a greater incidence of drug use than arrestees for violent crimes.

According to a leading private healthcare provider (Link to data)

  1. It is estimated that up to 60% of crimes are perpetrated with the influence of drugs.
  2. South Africa has a five-fold higher rate of foetal alcohol syndrome than the United States.
  3. Alcohol is responsible for 80% of male adolescent deaths.
  4. South Africa’s drug use is believed to be twice that of the rest of the globe.
  5. Cannabis and alcohol are the most commonly abused substances, according to the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU).
  6. Males teenagers are the most common cannabis users and men over the age of 20 are the most frequent drinkers.

Statistics from the South African Journal of Psychiatry on alcohol use and abuse in South Africa’s Drug War paint a grim picture:

see >> this link for SAJP <<

  1. Alcohol abuse among young and old individuals is one of the world’s most serious public health and social issues.
  2. Alcohol abuse is linked to over 60 main diseases and injuries, including Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD), cancer, cardiovascular disease, foetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes mellitus, suicide, and violence, to mention a few.
  3. South Africa is the 19th largest user of alcoholic beverages in the world.
  4. South Africa consumes 11.5 litres of pure alcohol per capita, with the figure expected to rise to 12.1 litres by 2025.
  5. Alcohol is consumed by 23% of young people aged 12 to 20.
  6. In nations like Brazil and South Africa, heavy episodic drinking is one of the most important indications of acute alcohol-related effects. As a result, excessive alcohol intake is responsible for 4% of all deaths globally.
  7. According to the World Health Organization, South Africans consume 10 litres of pure alcohol per year, which is significantly more than the global average.
  8. Furthermore, Makhubele believes that if homemade alcohol is included, this figure will be even higher, making South Africa Africa’s heavy drinking country.
  9. According to the South African Department of Education, alcohol consumption is estimated to be 28%, with 7% categorized as high risk by the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).
  10. The age at which people start drinking has decreased dramatically; in South Africa, roughly 12% of teenagers start drinking before the age of 13.
    Description on the effects of Alcohol

Dagga use according to data reveals some shocking statistics:

  • In the last two years, the consumption of dagga has climbed by 20%.
  • Dagga was used by 2.52 million people in 2006 and 3.2 million people in 2008.(CDA)
  • South Africans consume twice the quantity of Dagga as the global average.
  • South Africans spend more than R3.5 billion every year on dagga.
  • Dagga is used in the amount of 1500 metric tons per year.
  • South Africans spend about R3560 million per year on dagga.
    Description on the effects of Dagga

Mandrax use in South Africa:

  1. Mandrax (Methaqualone): South Africa is the world’s largest Mandrax user.
  2. Mandrax is the second most abused drug in South Africa.

Ecstasy use and abuse in South Africa according to the WHO:

  1. According to the WHO, ecstasy usage and abuse in South Africa is as follows:
  2. In 1997/98, South Africa had the biggest amount of ecstasy seizures of any African country, ranking 9th globally.
  3. Each year, SA produces about one ton of E.
  4. Nearly 110 000 people take ecstasy each year, spending approximately R610 million.
    Description on the effects of ecstasy

Youth Advocates reported some frightening statistics about Hard Drug use
cocaine, crack, heroin and Tik use in South Africa’s Drug War:

World Drug Day 26th June

see This link to Youth Village

  1. Cocaine consumption has climbed by 20% in the last two years.
  2. In 2006, 250 000 South Africans ingested cocaine worth around R1 430 million; in 2008, this number grew to 290 000. (CDA)
  3. The %age of South Africans receiving cocaine addiction therapy has climbed from 1.5 % in 1996 to 17.5 % now.
  4. In 1998, South Africa accounted for more than 80% of all African cocaine seizures.
  5. The drug of preference among prostitutes is crack (Rocks). Some people spend as much as R30 000 every month. To fund their addiction, they sell their bodies to between 15 and 25 guys per day.
  6. Tik (methamphetamine) is the drug of choice for 42% of drug users in Cape Town.
  7. The global meth trade serves 51 million people globally. (2010, NatGeo: Drugs Inc)
  8. Meth production and distribution generates about $ 35 billion in worldwide earnings. (2010, NatGeo: Drugs Inc)
  9. In 1996, one % (1%) of South Africans were receiving treatment for heroin addiction, however in 2008, the number of people receiving treatment for this addiction jumped to 24 %. (CDA)
  10. “Sugars,”  a Heroin-based substance that affects almost 70% of families in Chatsworth, a Durban south suburb.
  11. Female students use heroin at a higher rate than male students. (University of South Australia publication “Inspired” Vol 5 2009)
  12. In South Africa, the percentage of users has doubled in a year, and the product is now targeted at townships. Prices have also decreased, making it significantly more accessible to those with lower incomes.
  13. Nyaope, a mix of dagga and heroin, is wreaking havoc in young users in Tshwane’s township; other kinds of Heroin, such as “Plazana” and “Kwape,” are being “pushed” and on the rise, making the transition from Dagga to Heroin much easier. and the options of becoming addicted 100%

A battle underway in South Africa’s Drug war

To stop drug usage, the necessity for “armies” and “weapons” to defeat this villain is critical. These armies take the form of rehabilitation centers like Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres, Johannesburg’s premier rehab center. Between 155 and 250 million people, or 3.5 % to 5.7 % of the population aged 15 to 64, used illicit substances at least once in the preceding year, according to the UNODC.

According to the UNODC, there were between 16 and 38 million problem drug users worldwide in 2008, based on global estimates of cannabis, opiate, cocaine, and amphetamine-type stimulant users (between 10% and 15% of estimated drug users). This figure doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. You can only picture the magnitude of the drug syndicate network at this point, given the ever-increasing proliferation of drug syndicates (there were an estimated 125 syndicates in South Africa in 1995, and this figure expanded to 438 in 2007).

What about today’s youth?

The health and wellness trends in the sphere of drug addiction in South Africa

South Africa’s Drug war figures are terrifying. According to the website, “Roughly 40% of eighth-grade males had tried alcohol in their lifetime, around 25% had tried alcohol in the previous year, and around 20% had tried alcohol in the previous month.” Around 65 % of guys in the eleventh grade had consumed alcohol at some point in their lives, 50 % had had alcohol in the previous year, and 47 had consumed alcohol in the previous month. Around 32% of eighth-grade girls had had alcohol at some point in their lives, 21% had consumed alcohol in the previous year, and 18% had consumed alcohol in the previous month. Around 50 % of girls in the eleventh grade had consumed alcohol at some point in their lives, 38 % had consumed alcohol in the previous year, and 33 % had consumed alcohol in the previous month.

Student long-term substance abuse

There was also the issue of student long-term substance use. Around 20% of male students and 6% of female students used cannabis. Mandrax is used by approximately 6% of males and 4% of females. Cocaine is used by approximately 6% of males and 5% of females. Approximately 11% of males and 10% of females use heroin.

There was an increase in crime and violence, accidents and injuries, unsafe sexual behaviour/unplanned pregnancies/STIs and HIV/AIDS, learning challenges, and mental and physical health concerns among youth who used.” It’s quite frightening.

So, what are the options in South Africa’s Drug war?

Rehabilitation, that’s what.

With the top minds in the field to educate, ease, and lend a hand in the fight against drug misuse, Houghton House has a world-class team of specialists who are available for guidance, assistance, and top-notch drug and alcohol recovery 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

Link to Treatment options

variety of methods are being implemented.
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