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Govt calls on SA to fight against substance abuse

by Vivian Warby
on 29 May 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The Minister of Social Development Dr Zola Skweyiya has called on families and communities to join government the fight against substance abuse and strive toward a drug-free society.

Speaking at a briefing ahead of the Social Development Budget Vote in Cape Town on Thursday, the minister said: "We need to reach the grassroots," adding that the department was leading the campaign to reduce the abuse of legal and illegal drugs.

A key focus area is children at school level. "We are concerned that the age of first experimentation is around 10 years.

"We must work with other departments and non governmental organisations to ensure that we mitigate the impact of the problem through the provision of among others, prevention and treatment services."

He said alcohol continued to be the substance of choice in the country and binge drinking, especially over weekends among the youth, was high and stands at over 25 percent in many communities, he said.

The minister said that substance and drug abuse were major contributors to crime, poverty, unemployment, reduced productivity, a dysfunctional family life and premature death.

"The reality is that learners who use drugs are more likely to drop out of school, be victims or perpetrators of violence and engage in risky sexual behaviour," the minister said.

South Africa is rated as one of the top ten countries in terms of alcohol abuse, according to drug expert and Chairman of the Central Drugs Authority (CDA), David Bayever.

Mr Bayever said that in spite of all efforts to stop drug and alcohol abuse in its tracks, the problem was still escalating in the country.

The CDA is a statutory body established by the department under the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Act.

Mr Bayever said the drug and alcohol problem cost the country about R20 billion a year.

In order to tackle the drug and alcohol there was a need for the CDA to branch to provincial and local levels. - BuaNews


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