Written by Umamah Bakharia
Today is International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The day is annually commemorated by SADAG as Substance Abuse Awareness Day. Age, peer pressure, and the low cost and easy accessibility of drugs and alcohol in South Africa are increasing the risk factors of abuse among adolescents and young adults.
According to the World Drug Report 2021, young people between 15 and 34 years old are most at risk of using drugs. And there is a projective growth in the next decade, particularly in low-income countries.
Speaking to Radio Islam, SADAG’s Vanisha Gordhan says more information needs to be spread to young children on the effects of substance abuse. “It’s important for them to know what the consequences might be,” says Gordhan.
SADAG in partnership with the National Department of Social Development has launched South Africa’s first WhatsApp chat, the Ke Moja WhatsApp Chat Platform. “The perk of having this is that a lot of young people reach out through this platform and chat to a consultant and then get the resources or understand a bit more around substance abuse, so that the aim,” says Gordhan.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, at least 89 900 calls were made to SADAG’s substance abuse line. “That shows that a lot of people are struggling with substance/alcohol abuse but are not sure what to do about it so they are reaching out to find out more information,” says Gordhan.
She reiterates that people need to be more aware of the effects that substance abuse can have on their lives.