The increase in drug availability and abuse, and the alarming upsurge of violence and crime has greatly contributed to the formidable array of obstacles facing South Africa today. Research has also found that there is a clear-cut causal relationship that exists between drug use/abuse and certain forms of crime.
Addiction is a disease that affects all strata of society. There are very strong genetic influences which predispose individuals to become addicted; however there is also the issue that if individuals are exposed to drugs and/or alcohol before the age of ‘brain maturity’ which is around the age of 21, then the addiction is far more likely to develop. Addiction is also more likely to develop in the context of co-existing psychiatric illnesses, such as mood and anxiety disorders.
In South Africa, there is a particularly high incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the high rates of violent crime, rape, and murder. The problem is that alcohol and drugs offer temporary symptomatic relief from the trauma associated with these harmful acts. Substance abuse is also much more likely in the context of unemployment, which in South Africa currently stands at about 25%, officially, but may be higher given the unknown number of illegal immigrants.
A reduction in widespread drug use at all levels of society can potentially lead to a reduction in the occurrence of violent crime in South Africa.