It is our duty as South Africans to create awareness around drug and substance abuse.

The World Health Organisation found about 15% of South Africans suffered from drug abuse in 2015.

Children as young as six are experimenting with drugs, non-profit counselling centre Hope House counselling centre says.

Founder and child counsellor Judy Strickland said to understand the consequences of drug use, parents, teachers and pupils need to know the impact of substances on the brain.

“Studies have found that drug and alcohol use damages children’s growing brains; sometimes permanently. Many drugs effect an area called the pre-frontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making, social behaviour and learning,” Strickland said.

The Saartjie Baartman Centre has also raised awareness around the link between intimate partner violence and substance use.

About 80% of women arriving at the centre, seeking emergency shelter from abusive partners, test positive for drugs. Since establishing its substance abuse treatment wing last year, the centre has helped about 70 women to leave abusive relationships and seek assistance for addiction. 

Concerned parents and schools can contact Hope House on 084 580 7298;  the WCEDs hotline on 0800 45 46 47 for counselling support and assistance; Sanca’s national line 086 14 72622; or the Saartjie Baartman Centre on 021 633 5287 for help.

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