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National Drug Problem

South Africa has a long-standing history of substance use issues. These issues were as prevalent in apartheid as they are today.

South Africa's History With Substances

At the end of the apartheid era, South African research relating to the nature and extent of use of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco among the general adult population in South Africa was virtually non-existent. In South Africa, alcohol and drug abuse were signalled by former President Nelson Mandela in his opening address to Parliament in 1994 as a problem among social pathologies that needed to be combated.

By February 1999, the South African Drug Advisory Board hailed an unacceptable increase in substance abuse and its associated problems. This problem has been identified by the National Drug Master Plan, as fuel for crime, poverty, reduced productivity, unemployment, dysfunctional family life, political instability the escalation of chronic diseases, such as AIDS and TB, injury and premature death (Drug Advisory Board, 1999).

Although South Africa followed international treaties and instituted statutes that made the use of heroin, cocaine, and cannabis criminal offences, few resources were devoted to enforcement of such laws. Until 1991, South African law divided the population and labelled persons into four major South African defined racial categories: Blacks, Whites, Coloureds, and Asians. These racial divisions remain deeply entrenched in South African society.

South Africa is by far the largest market for illicit drugs within sub-Saharan Africa. Its relative affluence in Africa makes it a tempting ‘emerging market’ in its own right. The influx of new international cultural trends among the more affluent segments of the population is all associated with the increase in drug use and abuse as well as increases in violent and organized crime.

According to Drugaware in 2006 on Illegal Substances

Substances in Modern South African Society

The illegal street drug trade in 2020 is incredibly hard to track. Many "street dealers" are in fact dealers that live overseas and manufacture pure products that are "traded via cryptocurrencies", shipped directly from the supplier to local dealers or to the end-users. These operations are incredibly intricate and sophisticated with delivery routes, packaging and anonymity that are virtually undetectable or impossible to trace or stop without freezing international trade to South Africa.

5 grams here, 2 grams there different suppliers, different routes, different packaging, different sources, different locations. Dealers have sniffer dogs

Local dealers import micro consignments, meet willing buyers anonymously online, geo-tag random "drop off" locations via mobile technology, receive payment via anonymous ATM cash forwards, bitcoin etc, operate from "burner" untracked mobile accounts and never be face to face with the end-user.

Even if consignments are intercepted the micro shipments are often so small, that they are nearly impossible to connect or convict and the paper trail does not exist on the dark web unless account credentials are willingly handed over.

Tracing drug deals

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Individual counselling for drug addictions has proven to be one of the most effective ways to combat addictions and for clients to sustain their sobriety. Many people think that addiction is the core problem. However, substance use disorders are more often a temporary method to self sooth and cope with other issues that need to be addressed through counselling therapy.