And hundreds of thousands abuse cocaine and tik, says a UN report
South Africans are the biggest dagga smokers in the world, with at least 2.5-million citizens using the drug.
The country also has the most abusers of amphetamine-type stimulants, the most common being tik, with double the percentage of addicts than other countries.
These shocking revelations were made yesterday at the release of the annual report of the international narcotics control board of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime.
And a presentation by the department of social development at the UN launch showed that:
- 237 000 South Africans are totally dependent on drugs and will feed their addiction at all costs;
- 1.97-million South Africans are alcoholics; and
- alcohol abuse and drug addiction cost the economy R20-billion a year in accidents, injuries, assaults and medical treatment.
“Drug use in South Africa is extremely serious and is twice the world norm,” said Bayever.
He said that 8 percent of the population aged between 12 and 64 was addicted to dagga, as opposed to a 4 percent average in other countries.
Bayever said the dagga-abuse figures were “only the tip of the iceberg”, given that the problem was seriously under-reported.
In addition to the 1.97-million alcoholics in South Africa, about 3.2-million people are “risky drinkers” who consume large amounts of alcohol at weekends.
The cost of heavy drinking included 7,000 lives taken by drunken drivers every year.
The department of social development said that, though 59 percent of people aged between 12 and 64 do not drink, at least 37 percent are “binge drinkers”.
Drug rehabilitation centres struggle to cope with the scourge of abuse. They can accommodate only 17,500 patients a year.
Dr Jonathan Lucas, the southern Africa representative of the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, said South Africa did not have the capacity to fight drug trafficking. He said that in addition to West African, mainly Nigerian, drug peddlers, there had been an influx of Asian drugs cartels.
Bayever said drug abuse was prevalent among children under 16. Half of this group had experimented with drugs.
The government report said that 20 percent of dagga smokers were boys under 16 and 7 percent were girls. However, 7 percent of both boys and girls abused heroin, mandrax, cocaine, and tik.
Children who smoked dagga were almost four times more likely to be stabbed at school than those who did not. Those who drank alcohol were twice as likely to be stabbed.
About 40 percent of child dagga smokers reported having had sex, compared with 5 percent of non-smokers. Thirty percent of child drinkers had sex, compared with 3 percent of those who did not drink.
- Between 42 and 98 percent of drug patients in the Western Cape are hooked on tik
- South Africa, Mauritius and Zambia have highest increase of heroin abuse in Africa
- Western Cape has more alcoholics and tik addicts than any other province
- Dagga is the most widely used drug in the world; 42 million addicts are in Africa (which explains a lot - Ed.)