Substance Abuse Statistics for South Africa

South African Community Epidemiology Network (SACENDU) on Drug Use

SACENDU: trends for June to December 2014

Established in 1996 by the SA Medical Research Council and the Department of Psychology at the University of Durban-Westville, SACENDU is a network of researchers, practitioners and policy makers.  They collect data from registered treatment facilities in South Africa and analyse the information.  The below information looks at numbers, emerging trends and risk factors associated with alcohol, tobacco and other drug use.

This information is based on 10 197 patients seen across 64 treatment centres / programmes.  We have selected some interesting notes from their preliminary findings.  Eden actively participates in all the projects that are relevant.

  1. Cannabis is the dominant substance of abuse in Gauteng, KZN, Limpopo and Mpumalanga
  2. Alcohol is the dominant substance of abuse in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape and South west
  3. Treatment admissions for heroin remained stable, but injection use of heroin has increased substantially in Gauteng from 12% to 21%
  4. Over the Counter (codeine and prescription meds such as tranquilisers) continue to rise
  5. An increasing number of admissions are HIV positive
  6. Cannabis is reported as the primary drug of abuse by the majority of patients who are younger than 20 years old
  7. Treatment of cocaine related problems have decreased, and is mostly reported as a secondary substance of abuse
  8. Patients who presented with a dual diagnosis on admission, of these 36% presented with mental health problems, followed by hypertension

What SACENDU recommends that treatment centres do:

  1. Participate in harm reduction activities
  2. Push for HIV testing
  3. Monitor patients after they leave
  4. Look at harm reduction in users who inject drugs – providing clean syringes
  5. Look at better technologies for the timeous analysis of constituents in drugs to ensure targeted treatment for withdrawal symptoms (e.g. heroin mixed in with Cat etc.)
  6. Encourage health professionals to register for accredited addiction courses to improve early identification of substance use disorders
  7. Promote the provision of active patient counselling by pharmacists and pharmacist assistants before dispensing codeine-containing medications

What SACENDU would like to monitor

  1. The use of synthetic cannabis
  2. Females in treatment under 20 years
  3. Increase in Nayope use in Gauteng and the Northern Region
  4. Increasing numbers abusing codeine

Selected topics for further research

  1. What are the characteristics of people who relapse
  2. What are the contents of bath salts
  3. Effects of sharing needles e.g. on Hep-C
  4. Are the rights of drug users being protected
  5. The impact of cultural events on the early initiation of drug and alcohol use
  6. How do we see indigenous use of substances, such as cannabis, in relation to old practices

Visit SACENDU for more info


Substance Abuse Facts

substance abuse facts