Alarming rise in SA heroin abuse
June 28 2013 at 11:30am
By SHAUN SMILLIE
Johannesburg – Heroin use is in decline in many parts of the world, but here in South Africa cheaper variants of the drug have resulted in growing consumption.
This is noted in the latest World Drug Report, which was released this week.
“South Africa reported an increase in the use of heroin, methamphetamine and methcathinone, while cocaine use remained stable. Treatment facilities across the country reported that heroin use was a growing concern,” the World Drug Report reads, adding that heroin and opium consumption have been on the rise in Africa since 2009.
Local drug authorities have also noticed this trend, in particular the rise of nyaope in many South African townships.
The emergence of nyaope has caused the proportion of heroin patients who are black to increase by 65 percent, according to the Medical Research Council. This has doubled since 2008.
“Polydrug (drug combinations) use was also reported as a common phenomenon among drug users in treatment,” the report reads. Nyaope falls into this category as its two main ingredients are dagga and heroin.
One of the reasons for the rise of heroin abuse in South Africa, said the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is the importance of the Afghanistan/ East Africa heroin trade route.
Better policing methods along the Balkan route in central Europe has, according to the UNODC, made syndicates look for alternative markets.
The route begins in Afghanistan, then moves to Pakistan or Iran and from there, the contraband is shipped across the Indian Ocean. The smuggling is done using vessels called dhows, fishing boats and in shipping containers.
“The dhows carry mostly licit goods, but occasionally up to 400kg of drugs. Drugs are typically unloaded to smaller vessels offshore for delivery at small harbours or beach landings,” the UNODC said. Their destinations are ports along East Africa, including Mozambique. From Mozambique the drugs are smuggled across the border into South Africa, where they are often moved to markets in Europe and North America. Some of these drugs make their way to the local market.
The report also points to Africa as an emerging market for methamphetamine such as tik