Monitoring Alcohol and Drug Abuse Trends in South Africa (1996-2006): Reflections on Treatment Demand Trends

By Parry, Charles; Plüddemann, Andreas et al. | Contemporary Drug Problems, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Monitoring Alcohol and Drug Abuse Trends in South Africa (1996-2006): Reflections on Treatment Demand Trends

Parry, Charles, Plüddemann, Andreas, Bhana, Arvin, Contemporary Drug Problems

This article describes the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use project, describes selected trends in treatment demand related to alcohol and other drug (AOD) use for a 10 year period, and reflects on the utility and impact of this initiative on policy and practice. Data are collected using a standardized data collection form from over 70 specialist AOD treatment centers in six sentinel sites in South Africa every 6 months. Data are also collected from police forensic records and community surveys. Treatment demand linked to methamphetamine use has increased substantially in recent years in one site (Cape Town), but not in other sites. Treatment demand for heroin-related problems has increased over time in most sites, with changes in the population group profile of patients being noted. Over time the proportion of adolescents admitted to treatment centers has also increased significantly. The project has informed policy development at provincial and national levels, has guided local training and resource allocation decisions, and has allowed us to engage meaningfully in international forums. It has furthermore strengthened collaboration among researchers and stimulated new research initiatives. Dissemination activities have been intensive.

KEY WORDS: Alcohol, drugs, surveillance, treatment demand, South Africa.


Following the collapse of Apartheid1 in South Africa in the early 1990s there has been a reduction of (negative) internal controls and a dramatic increase in air and land travel to and from this country. Both these conditions, together with other changes in the global production and marketing of illicit drugs, have stimulated an increase in drug transshipment through South Africa and an increase in local use of a wide variety of drugs that were not previously available.

In 1996 with funding from the World Health Organization, the South African Medical Research Council established the South African Community Epidemiological Network on Drug Use (SACENDU), an aggregate data collection system, to monitor alcohol and other drug use trends on an ongoing basis. SACENDU is a network of about 200 researchers, practitioners and policy makers from six sentinel areas (in five provinces) in South Africa: Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth (PE), East London, Gauteng Province and Mpumalanga Province (Figure I).2 Plans are underway to expand the SACENDU network to other parts of the country; however, this paper will focus on the above areas for which longitudinal data are available.

Local epidemiological networks address many of the difficulties associated with national surveys: they are cost effective as they rely largely on existing resources; they limit the masking of location-specific differences; they use local data, increasing the likelihood of relating findings to specific denominator information; they help inform specific actions against alcohol and other drug-related problems in local community settings; there are increased opportunities for checking data validity as data are gleaned from multiple sources; and the networks are sustainable, providing infrastructure for further research at a local level (Sloboda & Kozel, 1999). AOD or drug only surveillance systems have been set up in various regions of the world (e.g., Latin America, South East Asia, and Western Europe), in different countries (e.g., USA, Canada, Mexico and Spain), in different states/provinces (e.g., Texas) and subregions (e.g., border towns along the US/Mexican border).

AOD surveillance systems typically comprise a network of stakeholders from within a certain location (e.g., city), and across locations, who collect information on AOD use patterns and consequences on an ongoing basis and report back such information at regular intervals (NIDA, 1998). Members of SACENDU meet every six months to provide communitylevel public health surveillance of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use trends and associated consequences through the presentation and discussion of various sources of quantitative and qualitative research data (Parry et al.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Monitoring Alcohol and Drug Abuse Trends in South Africa (1996-2006): Reflections on Treatment Demand Trends


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?