Stand­ing against drug over­dose

Eyethu Baywatch - - NEWS • IZINDABA - Tam­lyn Jolly

AS sub­stance abuse and re­lated sta­tis­tics con­tinue to rise in South Africa in an un­prece­dented fash­ion, SANCA is call­ing on the coun­try to take part in In­ter­na­tional Over­dose Day on Fri­day by wear­ing sil­ver.

The aim is to raise aware­ness on the dan­gers of sub­stance abuse, to re­move the stigma as­so­ci­ated with drug-re­lated deaths, and to ac­knowl­edge the grief felt by fam­i­lies and friends of those who have died as a re­sult of drug over­dose.

The United Na­tions World Drug re­port of 2014 re­ported that 7% of South Africans abuse nar­cotics of some kind.

One in 14 peo­ple are reg­u­lar users, up to a to­tal of 3,74 mil­lion peo­ple (taken as a per­cent­age of the 2013 pop­u­la­tion).

SANCA re­ported that there has been a 35% in­crease in ad­mis­sions to the 30 treat­ment cen­tres over the last 12 years, re­flect­ing the in­crease in sub­stance abuse on a na­tional level.

Over the two years from April 2016 to April 2018, SANCA na­tion­ally treated over 24 000 pa­tients.

The ma­jor­ity – 75% - were treated at SANCA out­pa­tient cen­tres while the re­main­ing 25% were treated at SANCA in­pa­tient cen­tres.

The high­est den­sity of ad­mis­sions, 41%, is the 22 – 35-year-old age group, with the sec­ond largest group being 14 – 17-year-olds.

Alarm­ingly, there has been an in­crease in the 4 – 13-yearold age group, which ac­counts for 3% of sub­stance abusers.

This is sig­nif­i­cant as it im­plies an ear­lier on­set age of sub­stance abuse.

Brain struc­ture de­vel­op­ment is a ma­jor con­cern to the med­i­cal field, given that the brain reaches ma­tu­rity only at age 26 and the ma­jor­ity of sub­stance abusers fall be­low this thresh­old.

Cannabis is the main sub­stance abused, ac­count­ing for between 37% and 38%, fol­lowed by al­co­hol at 1921%, heroin/opi­ates at 14% and other mixed/whoonga/nyaope at 14%.

SANCA warns that over­dos­ing is not lim­ited to il­le­gal drugs, but pre­scrip­tion and over-the-counter med­i­ca­tion could also become ad­dic­tive if not used ac­cord­ing to the pre­scrip­tion.

To use pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion safely, pa­tients must not crush or mix med­i­ca­tions un­less in­structed by a GP, al­ways read the la­bels and warn­ings, use the mea­sur­ing tool pro­vided, and do not mix and match dif­fer­ent med­i­ca­tions.

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