South Africa’s longstanding drug abuse problem linked to unemployment

During the previous century, workers doing hard labour in the mining, agricultural and construction sectors were often given doses of alcohol and sometimes cannabis to enhance their work performance, in a practice known as the “dop system”, a recent forum heard.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and the country’s substance abuse problem can be linked to high unemployment,, according to Mark Hunter, a professor of human geography at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.

“It is a sad irony that drugs played such an important part [in] creating the wealth of the country, [while] the state has largely abandoned the generation of young men and women who take substances,” Hunter told a webinar last week, referring to a shortage of rehabilitation centres in poorer areas.

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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