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KZN Premier: Substance Abuse Getting Out of Hand; Whoonga and Incika are Biggest Challenge

Anti-Substance Abuse Initiative Launched in Durban

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says substance abuse among the province’s young is getting out of hand. He told the inauguration of the Provincial Anti-Substance Abuse Forum (PASF) summit in Durban on 7 October 2021 that whoonga and incika are the most abused drugs in the province and that South Africans were the highest consumers of alcohol in Africa.

* Nyaope (also called Whoonga) is a cheap concoction of substances like rat poison, household detergents, ammonia, chlorine, ARVs, brown heroin, tik and cannabis. ARV medications have also been added to the compound to give it a more distinctive image, but not all whoonga street purchases contain these HIV/AIDS medications.

* Incika is a mixture of cough syrup and cool drink that contains codeine that has become very popular amongst township youth.

Zikalala said sub socio-economic factors such as poverty, inequality, and unemployment remain key contributing elements to the increased use of drugs and the development of substance use disorders.

He said substance abuse also contributed to the increasing crime rate and was linked to many of the reported cases of gender-based violence.

“Studies conducted suggests that whoonga and incika use are the most popular drugs in this province, which does not exclude the use of cannabis and alcohol amongst youth.

“These drugs are a particular concern because they are often used by children and adolescents, where rapid intervention is required to avoid an epidemic.,” said Zikalala.

Districts of Amajuba, Ugu and eThekwini Metro also faced a scourge of people who injected drugs. Zikalala said this was a major concern because they shared needles which resulted into transmission of other diseases.

“The challenges of substance abuse have an impact in institutions of higher learning which is resulting to the loss of lives.

“There is a serious increase in illicit drug-related social ills such as drug abuse and associated drug use disorders, especially among young people, resulting in lost potential and opportunities,” he said.

 

 

South Africans Outdrink All Other Africans

He added that research also showed that alcohol remained the substance with the greatest burden of harm in this country.

“South Africa ranks in the top twenty per-capita alcohol consumptions worldwide for individuals drinking alcohol and is the highest consumption in Africa.”

Zikalala said the problems of substance abuse had been compounded and made even more complex since 1994.

“The proliferation of drugs into our country and the continuing culture of alcohol abuse is visible in the many poor people we see on our streets living on a life of begging, some not just to get food, but to get a fix.

“Bridges have become homes for citizens who have given their lives to substance abuse,” he said.

 

Zikalala said amongst the KZN provincial government’s concerns was the impact of drugs and substance abuse on the spread of Covid-19.

“Smokers, including marijuana smokers, increase the possibility of transmission of the Covid-19 virus from hand to mouth.

“Cigarettes cause amongst others lung diseases and smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase risk of serious illness, such as pneumonia.”

He said some also believed in the “dangerous myth” that alcohol consumption could protect them against Covid-19.

“We have also sadly seen that when people are drinking in groups at taverns or night clubs, they also lose their guard and don’t observe social distancing, wearing of masks, or washing of hands regularly. Such events tend to become super spreaders of the deadly, infectious virus,” Zikalala said.

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