Authors: Ilze Swanepoel, Stephan Geyer & Gretel Crafford

Keyword: substance abuse, South Africa, Gauteng


Internationally the relapse-rates following treatment are high. Relapse is “a breakdown … in a person’s attempt to change or modify any target behaviour” (Marlatt & Donovan, 2005:ix). According to Adinoff, Talmadge, Williams, Schreffer, Jackley and Krebaum (2010:140), “relapse to substance abuse following treatment typically reaches 75% in the 3- to 6-month period following treatment.” Focusing on national data it is evident that relapse is also prevalent in South Africa following treatment for drug abuse. In this article “drugs” refers specifically to illicit drugs such as dagga, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine (Benavie, 2009:8). Alcohol, nicotine and prescription medication are excluded. The South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) (2008) indicated that 24% of the intakes into treatment centres in the Gauteng Province, 22% in Cape Town, 20% in the Northern Region and 32% in Port Elizabeth are not first-time admissions. SACENDU (2014) furthermore found that in Gauteng Africans made up 60% of the total admissions from January to June 2013, showing an increase of 12% from SACENDU statistics in 2010. From these admissions young adults seem to be a vulnerable group with 23% of the individuals aged 20-24 years, 17% aged 25-29 years, 11% aged 30-34 years and 7% aged 35-39 years (SACENDU, 2014). Based on these statistics it becomes clear that young African adults in the Gauteng Province often present with relapse after initial treatment for drug abuse. For the purpose of this article an African refers to a South African citizen of Black South African descent, excluding Coloured and Asian people.