EL�s teenage drug shock
1 November 2008
Teenagers smoke dagga in a Beacon Bay parkTeenage drug abuse has rocketed in East London and experts estimate there are about 1 000 dealers on the city�s streets, writes Andrew Stone.
Figures released by South African National Council on Alcoholism (Sanca) and The National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders (Nicro) have shown that teenagers are abusing substances more than ever.
During the second half of last year one in five people that visited Sanca was under the age of 20.
�Last year, for the period January to June 2007, we saw 40 under 18s and for the period July to December 2007 we saw only 27. This year we are seeing double that in a month,� said Sanca director Gill McGregor.
McGregor said that in July this year the 10 social workers at the St Mark�s Road organisation counselled 54 children.
�All 54 of those children were at a point where they should have been admitted for treatment in a detox centre, but unfortunately we don�t have the facilities for that.�
Responding to the Saturday Dispatch expose last week about a group of teenagers that were using a park in Beacon Bay to smoke dagga, McGregor said she was thankful that attention was finally being drawn to the problem, but did not want parents to think the Beacon Bay incident was an isolated one.
�We�re alarmed at how the drug problem has grown amongst teenagers,� she said. �This kind of thing is happening all over East London.�
Linda Loliwe, a supervisor at Nicro, said she had also noticed an increase in the number of children abusing drugs and alcohol.
�Fifty out of 60 children that were referred to us by court in the past two months are using drugs,� she said. �And it�s children across the spectrum, not just those from poor areas.�
McGregor said one of the biggest problems was the availability and affordability of drugs.
�You can buy drugs just about anywhere: from schools, upmarket shopping centres, street vendors, corner cafe�s and hotels.�
Dealers are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing techniques and have made once expensive drugs more affordable.
�You can get 25 grams of (low-grade) cocaine for R20, although its not pure, while a teaspoon and a half of heroin costs about R15,� said McGregor.
She said conservative estimates in East London put the number of dealers peddling drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, tik, mandrax, cat and hooka at 1000.
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