Substance Abuse in South Africa, its Linkages with Gender Based Violence and Urban Violence

Substance abuse is a global phenomenon, and South Africa is not immune to this pervasive problem. While the state has enacted a number of policies and initiatives in an attempt to deal with substance abuse, it is important that South Africa designs programmes that are multi-pronged and evidence-based. It is equally important to note that the challenge for South Africa is located in the policy - implementation gap. This is further compounded by socio-economic challenges, evidenced by youth unemployment, lack of educational and recreational facilities in South Africa’s townships, among other issues. Substance abuse has a mammoth impact on users, their families and communities, resulting in a number of social, psychological and economic ills. These ills have a bearing on the family unit, health system, education, and community-relations. Moreover, substance abuse places an increased financial burden on the individual and the family; the destabilisation of the family unit - permeating every area of life; and affecting the very social fabric of society. With South Africa’s high crime statistics, the linkages between (violent) crime and gender-based violence (GBV) on one hand and substance abuse on the other, should not be underestimated. Indeed, substance abuse transcends racial, class and gender divides and affects all areas of life, and this reality points to the fact that the problem is far-reaching and deeply entrenched.