Mental Health Information Centre - Southern Africa

26 June is Substance Awareness Day

Substance abuse in South Africa has reached near epidemic proportions. Methamphetamine (tik), marijuana and alcohol in particular are devastating to society and aggravating crime and poverty. Not only illegal substances are abused, but also prescription drugs or over-the counter medication. In stead of tuning in to our bodies we reach for quick fixes. We take pain killers for headaches, antacids for indigestion, vitamins for energy, slimming pills for being overweight, statins for clogged veins, supplements in stead of a well-balanced diet, pills to stay awake and then again to fall asleep, pills to enhance our work – or study performance, pills for our anxiety, alcohol to relax, and the list goes on.

It is often easier to write a prescription because the old tried-and-true remedies such as physical therapy, diet, exercise, stopping smoking and lifestyle changes take time to have an effect. It is necessary to remember that every pill has effects as well as side-effects, therefore it is advisable to refrain from taking pills for every little ache or pain. We live in a time where we expect results without much effort. We do not want to accept that diet and lifestyle can be possible causes of health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and anxiety disorders. A concern is that children will follow the pill-popping example set by their parents and therefore it is necessary to inform ourselves of other methods to handle our health problems.

If you are in need of help in this regard, please contact us.



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In partnership with:

University of Stellenbosch
South African Medical Research Council
University of Cape Town
International Brain Research Organization