15 June 2022

Substance Abuse and Recovery in SA: A Sobering Reality

Submitted by Josh Maraney
Substance Abuse and Recovery in SA: A Sobering Reality

Substance abuse is rampant in South Africa, even though drugs are illegal in our country. Drug abuse and addiction is an epidemic with effects that impact all aspects of society, particularly economically (healthcare costs) and socially (family dysfunction). There are several common types of drug abuse in South Africa, including alcohol and tobacco abuse, cannabis use disorder, stimulant use disorder, opioid use disorder, sedative use disorder, hallucinogen use disorder, inhalant use disorder, and polysubstance abuse.

Why Is There Such a High Rate of Substance Abuse in South Africa?

South Africa has among one of the highest rates of substance abuse globally. The country is home to millions of addicts, with 40% of them under 15 years old. Drug-related deaths are now at their highest levels since records began more than 20 years ago. This makes it all too clear that drug use is not just a social problem but also a public health crisis. So why is there such a high rate of substance abuse in South Africa? And what can be done about it?

During apartheid many people were introduced to drugs by soldiers who used them as they patrolled townships; others became addicted while serving time for political offenses or crimes like theft. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in drug use among schoolchildren. The reasons are complex but include easy access to drugs and peer pressure. In some cases, children have been abused at home or even trafficked into prostitution, so that their families can afford their drug habits. This is why young people must be educated about substance abuse from an early age – because if you don’t learn about it at school you will most likely hear about it on the streets. 

What makes substance abuse so dangerous is that it can quickly lead to addiction, which means that drug users are not only harming themselves but also those around them – especially their children. If someone close to you has a problem with substance abuse please seek help immediately because treatment works!

What Are the Impacts?

Each year drug abuse kills thousands of people in South Africa. It is estimated that for every person who dies as a result of drugs, another 20 – 30 people are hospitalized or suffer disability as a result of taking illicit substances. These shocking figures make substance use disorder (SUD) one of SA’s leading causes of mortality. In addition, substance use affects everyone—users, non-users, family members, and communities – through its high costs to society.

The negative impacts of substance use are wide-ranging, with their severity depending on individual vulnerability, levels of use, and type of drug. For example, at low to moderate levels of alcohol consumption there are few risks associated with drinking. However, higher levels can cause liver damage as well as increase people’s risk for cancer. 

People can also develop tolerance to drugs over time so more is needed to produce the intoxication or achieve therapeutic benefits. As tolerance develops users may need to take high doses (referred to as binge use) or switch from one drug class to another to maintain the desired high. Unfortunately, both these actions place users at greater risk for overdosing or other adverse effects.

What Forms Does Substance Abuse Take?

The forms of substance abuse are wide-ranging. Substance abusers may consume illicit drugs, prescription drugs, or use alcohol. They may also develop addictions to non-substances, like gambling or shopping. And substance abusers often do not fit into one category; they may be addicted to several types of substances. When it comes to treating substance abuse and addiction, professionals look at two things—the type of substance(s) used and whether an individual is addicted to any non-substance as well.

Addiction to one substance, such as alcohol or heroin, is likely to result in addiction to others. This can be difficult for treatment professionals because they need to address each of these addictions separately. For example, an individual who is addicted to both alcohol and cocaine needs different treatments for each substance.

Addiction to non-substances, such as shopping or sex, is treated differently than substance addiction. Treatment focuses on underlying psychological issues that make an individual vulnerable to addiction and teaches them healthy ways of managing cravings. In many cases, medications are used to help treat underlying issues like depression or anxiety. Different types of therapy can also be helpful for people who develop behavioral addictions. 

Where Can You Go for Help?

If you feel like you or someone you know may have a problem with substance abuse, where can you go for help? Families of addicts commonly seek support from 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). These organizations are free to attend and offer face-to-face or online counseling. The online group SMART Recovery offers additional resources for individuals interested in alternatives to traditional 12-step programs. And if you’re struggling with opioid addiction, there are many treatment options available to help overcome your addiction and recover from substance abuse.

Next Steps 

Both drug addiction and alcoholism have plagued South Africa for decades. The nation has even had to endure several waves of substance abuse, as various drugs (mainly, methamphetamines) have gained popularity in recent years. But regardless of which substances are causing addiction issues, one thing is certain: They all lead to long-term consequences that threaten not only addicts’ health but also their future and finances. Drug or alcohol use comes with high costs—costs that don’t stop when people get help or quit using altogether. To recover effectively from addiction requires help beyond simple detoxification or treatment; it means being able to look at why drug or alcohol use occurred in the first place so you can avoid making similar mistakes down the road.

Recover from Substance Abuse at Freeman House Recovery 

Most people who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol don’t understand that they suffer from an illness. But it is not until they are ready to get better that they start to see substance abuse as a medical problem rather than a moral failure. Sometimes professional help, such as that offered by Freeman House Recovery, can make all of the difference in helping people get their lives back on track so they can live happy, fulfilling lives.

Freeman House is Recovery is a luxury rehabilitation center for substance abusers. It offers an environment that helps people overcome their addictions, allowing them to get back on track with their lives. The staff at Freeman House are dedicated to helping people recover from substance abuse so they can live happy, fulfilling lives. For more information about how you can start your journey to recovery, please contact us today. We’re ready to help you find your way out of addiction and into a brighter future.

This article was first published at https://www.freemanhouserecovery.com/substance-abuse-and-recovery-in-sa-a-sobering-reality/

Published in Health and Medicine

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