Weed is the number one choice for KZN teens

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Young black dagga users are filling up KwaZulu-Natal’s rehab centres.
That’s the grim picture painted by the latest statistics released by the Medical Research Council’s alcohol, tobacco and other drug research unit at a report back meeting in Durban on Wednesday.
MRC chief specialist scientist Arvin Bhana revealed that of the 1,217 patients in treatment for drug abuse, 97% in the 19 and younger category were black.
But this crisis deepened, with the figures in the 20 to 35 age group revealing that 78% were black as well.
“So what are people mainly abusing in KwaZulu-Natal? Alcohol and dagga,” said Bhana.
Overall, 30% of patients were addicted to alcohol and dagga was the drug of choice for 32%.
The dagga problem among youngsters, according to a 2016 SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use report, is not confined to KwaZulu-Natal.
“In all sites, cannabis was reported as the predominant primary substance of abuse by patients younger than 20 years.
“Cannabis use … was followed by alcohol across all sites,” the report stated.
Back in KwaZulu-Natal, this year’s data by age showed that 50% of adolescents were using dagga and 23% were drinking alcohol.
The research found nyaope and whoonga were also gaining ground.
“You are three times more likely to have a mental health problem if you smoke dagga,” Bhana said.
A health department official, who did not want to be named, said poverty,  unemployment and the rise of blessers were some of the factors fuelling a high incidence of drug and alcohol abuse in KwaZulu-Natal.
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