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Zuma commits to tackle alcohol and drug abuse

Speaking at the 2nd Biennial Summit on Substance Abuse in Durban Zuma said the message from the Summit should be zero tolerance to drug abuse, trafficking and alcohol abuse.

Zuma said over the past decade there has been a rapid increase in the use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs by citizens of all ages, men and women, boys and girls.

Alcohol is found to be the most abused substance in South Africa followed by cannabis commonly known as dagga.

The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use has also found that an increasing number of young patients are being admitted to rehabilitation centres for alcohol and other drug related problems.

“We do not want this scourge to destabilise our nation,” Zuma said.

He said he was shocked on hearing of the suffering endured by family members due to the scourge of substance abuse in the country.

Creating awareness and education of communities, better policing and law enforcement against drug traffickers are some of the programmes aimed at curbing the problem and at helping to improve treatment for addicts and support provided to affected families.

The government's youth campaigns will be revived and intensified in schools as well as through the media and community mobilisation.

The private sector and business were urged to be more involved as they are an important stakeholder in the campaign against substance abuse, in particular alcohol.

Zuma said there are various measures they can explore as government to restrict the sale of alcohol in particular. Referring to the World Health Organisation which states that reducing the availability and abuse of alcohol requires steps such as changing the minimum legal purchase age for alcohol and instituting restrictions on hours and days of sale. Government has opened a public debate about increasing the legal age for purchasing alcohol from the current 18 to 21.

The police have been directed to act decisively against drug peddlers and residents in affected communities are urged provide information to the police about substance abuse.

“The fight against substance abuse is a key aspect of promoting social cohesion and stable communities in creating strong families, cohesive communities and a winning prosperous nation,” President Zuma said.

Source: Health-e News , By Dipuo Sedibe

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