Is Crystal Drugs Common in South Africa?
“Crystal” or “Meth” refers to the drug Methamphetamine commonly found in South Africa. Crystal Meth is a potent central nervous system stimulant drug that is mainly used recreationally. It is a highly addictive synthetic psycho-stimulant that increases energy and feelings of euphoria, among other physiological effects. It is locally referred to as “tik” due to the “ticking” sound produced when smoked.
Where does it occur most?
The prevalence of Crystal is highest in the Western Cape Province, and its impact has been felt the worst within the Cape Flats over the past fifteen years. Crystal has exceeded the prevalence of more commonly used drugs such as Marijuana, Mandrax and Ecstasy; and is perceived as the fastest growing addictive substance ever introduced into the South African market.
According to Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, a professor of psychiatry at The Brain Institute of the University of Utah (2011) Crystal has become an epidemic among youth in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. According to the South African Medical Research Council estimates suggest as many as 200,000 methamphetamine users in Cape Town, with 70% of those users under 20 years of age. The majority of teenagers found to be seeking drug treatment and rehabilitation in Cape Town have mainly been using Crystal.
Other places in South Africa
Outside of the Western Cape studies have shown that crystal meth has gained a foothold in eSwatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. South Africa in particular is a major Crystal consumer market. Research also has shown that Crystal is the first or second most common drug of choice in most South African provinces. Specifically, in 2020 tests of wastewater in two sites in the East Rand for residual methamphetamine waste found that estimated Crystal use levels were among the highest reported in the world. This suggests that the number of people who use Crystal in South Africa, may be far higher than national drug and health programme monitoring than we currently believe. There is a strong and growing demand for crystal meth in Africa, and meth is contributing to meeting this need.”
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