A lot of people do not understand the physical effects of substance abuse until they have seen what it does to other people. All it takes is one hit from any drug to be convinced whether it is good or bad for you. Others will say it is essential that their bodies feel this alteration they get from taking substances.
The drugs found in South Africa, are very long and have variants specific to the country. We have drugs that belong to the top 100 drugs used around the world. Weed; Cocaine; ATS (excluding ecstasy) with 1.0% of the population using it; Opium/heroin; ecstasy and prescription opioids. We also have our own special drugs that are combinations of substances that belong to other drugs; I suppose the high wasn’t enough. These drugs include nyaope/whoonga.
This drug is a combination of black tar heroin as the main additive and other drugs. The additives are used to draw the line between the different variations of the drug based on the location it is being sold. The nyaope found in Johannesburg is not the same as the one found in Durban, which both hold a high number of users respectively.
WHERE ARE THESE DRUGS MOST PROMINENT?
Drugs are found in all major cities like the abovementioned; Polokwane; Cape Town; Pretoria; Nelspruit; Port Elizabeth; Bloemfontein, and Mafikeng. I mention all of them by name because it is easy to notice the fact that it is all the places that make or break an economy. These cities have huge numbers of users as they fuel the desire to consume and accessibility. Getting weed in Johannesburg is as easy as getting bread. You can easily walk into a club and get ecstasy or Kat which is just a lesser version of cocaine. Cocaine on the other hand is considered to be elite because of its price and the fact that it’s not easily accessible to many.
IS THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENT MITIGATING THE ISSUE?
The severity of the drug situation in SA is that the cheaper the drug the more accessible it is, meaning even cheaper versions of it surface everywhere. This type of mass-produced drug is extremely dangerous. Young people are the most vulnerable to this situation. In High schools in Gauteng, record-high numbers of substance abuse developed from the early grades. Learners use drugs inside the school premises and introduce their peers to them. This creates a cycle of long-term drug use from an early age which follows certain learners to tertiary where the introduction of alcohol abuse stems.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE PEOPLE IN SOUTH AFRICA
It is evident that from generation to generation the issue of drug use will always be predominant. Schools and higher education institutions have made it a point that they educate pupils about drug and alcohol abuse with endorsements by the government in a ploy to eradicate the problem gradually. One can say it is working, but considering the direction of the situation, it seems socio-economic issues like unemployment and poverty are behind the wheel of drug use.
There is no in-between in the matter; you are either finding comfort in the high you get from drugs or you choose to stay away in an effort to be better. For those who choose drugs, it is inevitable that they will become yet another statistic. Those who survive the urge will get to reap the fruits of their labor, but at the price of being targets to criminal acts by those who steal, kill and rape to get their next fix.