Impact of Substance Abuse at healthcare primary level

Herewith the information on the statistics captured by 29 SANCA centres throughout South Africa.
The statistics reflect the period 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.
The following trends were identified:
  • Over the last 12 years, there has been an 35% increase of admissions reflecting the increase seen of substance abuse on a national level in South Africa. In the period 2005/6, SANCA centres admitted 8,733 service users and this amount increased annually to 13,376 service users for the period 2016/17.

  • There is an alarming conclusion drawn from the statistics on the various age groups, namely that the highest density (41%) of admissions is amongst 22-35 year old patients, almost half the addiction population. The second largest group is 14 – 17 year olds therefore individuals in high school Grade 8 – Grade 11.There is an increase for the age group between 4 and 13 years of age accounts for 3%.

  • The onset age is getting younger as there is an annual increase from age 4 to 35. This is significant in that it implies an earlier onset age of substance abuse.

  • A great concern for the medical field is that the brain only reaches maturity at 26 years of age and that the highest prevalence of admissions of a substance use disorder where below this age group. There could be permanent brin structural changes in the developing brain.

  • There is an decrease in alcohol submissions at the centres of the last year but an increase in admissions for cannabis admissions to the various centres;

  • When analysing the racial groups, 68% of the service users were African and second largest group is the coloured population at 17%; 12% of the clients treated during this period were white; and the Indian/Asian population was only 3%.

  • Over 41% of the clients are unemployed. The second largest group (31%) are school learners that are receiving treatment and 2,5% are students. Only 18% are employed or self employed on full time or 3% were part time employed. The rest of the clients (1%) were pensioners or receive disability grants and aid and it was interesting that 0,5% classified themselves as housewives.

  • It is clear that dagga is by far the drug of choice with 37% within the reported treatment community.

  • A high percentage of clients report that either dagga or alcohol was the first substance ever used, which again will be in line with the highest reporting ages.

  • Dagga is the substance that accounts for 37% of the admissions during this period but there is a 1% decrease in admissions from the last reporting year. Alcohol is the second substance of choice (21%); then heroin & opiates at 14% and the mixture of nyaope /whoonga /sugers/ pinch at 13% of all the admissions for this period.

  • The sharp increase of nyaope abuse is problematic as it is a mixture of cannabis and low grade heroin. The health concerns have arisen as service users are reporting now that they inject the nyaope as well as a technique called “blue toothing”.

  • When looking at the National footprint, Gauteng treats the most clients (45%) and this can be ascribed to the high population density with 77% of the service users being treated on an Outpatient basis and 23% are treated on an Inpatient basis.

  • 30% of clients are self referred and 23% are referred by their families or friends. The school refer 19 % of all clients and then the employer at 8%. Only 5% are referred through the courts for diversion programmes. A small percentage of our clients are referred through the legal system.