Standing against drug overdose
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.