Drug Addiction in South Africa

There are a lot of drug addiction treatment myths, not only in South Africa but all over the world. Sometimes we see the tabloids trumpeting the “newest most dangerous drug” but how much proper information is there surrounding this disease of drug addiction? This article will introduce drug addiction in South Africa, talk about drug addiction symptoms and then look at treatment in the South African context.

What are the symptoms of drug addiction?

Drug addiction is the state where a person finds that he/she is repeatedly using drugs despite the negative consequences. It is really characterised by two chief physical symptoms – those of “withdrawal” and “tolerance”. It is dependence that forces somebody to use drugs no matter the problems that this creates. Crime is often associated with drug addiction in South Africa as addicts struggle to afford the substance that they require to avoid withdrawals. Dependence can by physical in which case a person will suffer withdrawal symptoms if they stop using drugs or psychological in which case they will have psychological symptoms when they discontinue using their substance.  There are many detox centres that provide superb quality addictions treatment to both South Africans and foreign patients that come from the UK, Europe, the Middle East and other countries to benefits from drug addiction treatment in South Africa.

An addiction treatment centre will offer a medically supervised detoxification process. These are more effective than addicts trying to stop independently as well as being safer. Tolerance is the situation where an addict needs to use a higher dose of their drug in order to achieve the intended effect or get high.  It occurs because the body adapts itself to be able to deal with the toxins being introduced to it.  Tolerance is an important criteria used by treatment professionals to diagnose drug addiction in South Africa.

Government efforts to curb drug addiction in South Africa have been two-pronged.  Firstly legislation has been enacted to regulate and standardise addiction treatment consultants and rehabs.  Secondly the government has opened subsidized treatment centres as private treatment for drug addiction in South Africa is out of reach for many people.

Treating drug addiction in South Africa

There are world class centres that are available to treat drug addiction in South Africa. The program in these centres is based on international research done in America and Europe. By using these “best practice” models South African addiction treatment is able to compete with clinics across the world. The first step in treating drug addiction in South Africa is to completely detoxify the patient. This means that any residual traces of the substance are cleared out of the system. It is always best to undertake detoxification under medical supervision as this process can be very unpleasant and sometimes even dangerous. Many addicts fail to stop using by themselves, no matter how much they want to stop but will be able to stop using drugs with help.

An addiction treatment centre will usually base their program on a psychotherapeutic model that aims to address the behaviour associated with addiction as well as providing new coping strategies to deal with stress. This is accomplished through a mixture of therapeutic activities, including group therapy, individual addiction counselling, art therapy, psychodrama and music therapy. Drug addiction in South Africa is a complicated problem which is why such a diverse and holistic treatment program is required.

In conjunction to therapy patients will commonly be introduced to the 12 step program of Narcotics Anonymous. This fellowship of recovering people offers free support meetings that aim to help other drug addicts. Patients are encouraged to continue attending these meetings after leaving treatment. It has been shown that participating in these meetings leads to a better quality of recovery and greater periods of abstinence.

If you would like to find out more about patterns of drug addiction in South Africa please contact one of the intake coordinators at We Do Recover.  They are waiting for your call and will direct you to the best possible resources.
Please call us to discuss on:
SA: 082-74-REHAB (73422) Normal Cell rates apply or
UK: 0808 26 REHAB (73422) UK Freephone helpline.

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