Substance abuse is a currently a disturbing global challenge. Recently, the United Nations [https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/05/1010262] raised an alarm at the worrying levels of meth abuse and drug trafficking in South-East Asia.

The story is not different in South Africa. The country has come a long way in fighting drug abuse but the stark reality remains that many youths are still hinged to this problem. The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) [http://www.mrc.ac.za/sites/default/files/attachments/2018-03 02/SACENDUupdateJan2018.pdf] reported that “the 1st half of 2017 (i.e. 2017a) saw an increase in the number of persons admitted for treatment from 8787 in 2016b to 10047 in 2017a across 80 centres/programmes.”

What Is Substance Abuse?

Basically, substance abuse is when an individual uses drugs or substances:

  • To alter mood to give euphoric or depressant feelings
  • To get an unfair advantage in a competition or test
  • That is not legal
  • In an inappropriate and wrong way (usually by taking an overdose)

Substances Abused in South Africa

Some of the most frequently abused substances in South Africa are alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methaqualone (mandrax), heroin, codeine and cannabis. Many times, abusers take these substances in a cocktail or mixture resulting in a potentiated myriad of devastating effects. One of these cocktails is the highly popular Wunga or Nyaope.

Wunga or Nyaope is a mixture of potentially lethal substances including (but not limited to) antiretroviral agents (drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS), rat poisons, methamphetamines, heroin, ammonia and soap or cleaning powder. These substances are believed—and misunderstood—to make the mixtures effective but they are very dangerous, often times leading to death.

Codeine is the most abused over-the-counter drug in South Africa. It is cheap and relatively easy to buy as it is a major active ingredient in many cough syrups like Myprodol, Benylin C, and Broncleer cough syrup.

Many of these substances can also be made available in various forms. Some of these forms include flakka, lacoste, whites, and freebase.

Effects of Substance Abuse

While substance abuse can have personal deleterious effects on the individual, these effects can spill over to the society and the economy, resulting in homelessness, increased crime rates, increased spending on health, the spread of diseases and reduced productivity. For instance, results from a study [http://www.scielo.org.za/pdf/samj/v104n2/23.pdf] by 4 South African medical researchers and published in 2014 showed that “the tangible financial cost of harmful alcohol use alone was estimated at R37.9 billion.”

Drug abusers, on the other hand, suffer from debilitating complications after prolonged use. When a drug is used indiscriminately for a long time, it almost always results in substance addiction or simply, addiction. Initially, the drug abuser wrongly assumes that he or she can maintain control over how much of the substance he or she uses.

Along the line, the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems and health complications. This leads to compulsory drug use. The effects of drug or substance abuse can range from addiction, over-dependence, and health complications to death.

In most cases, abusers experience weight loss, poor judgment, bad relationships and lifestyles, depression, intense cravings for the substance, sickness, and improper and risky behaviour.

Recovering from Substance Abuse

Recovery requires careful and dedicated monitoring, proper medical supervision, regular social interventions, and effective therapy or treatment ranging from medical to psychological methods.

Withdrawal from any resulting effect of substance abuse is a personal journey that requires every ounce of support that can be offered; withdrawal symptoms are characterized by intense pain and craving for the addictive substance. Rehab, counselling and detoxification when combined can provide powerful tools to help the addict recover.

At Assisted Recovery Centers of Africa (ARCA), we provide effective, FDA-approved therapies. Our treatment methods involve cutting-edge methods in helping individuals recover fully from addiction. We also provide the only Rehabilitation Detox Medical Treatment Program in South Africa that is affordable and can be personalized.