Substances of abuse — demand for their determinations in the Western Cape
Background. Drug abuse is as relevant today as ever. Management of such cases on a primary health care level may be challenging, particularly when laboratory facilities are unavailable. Furthermore, substance abuse and its sequelae place a significant burden on the already overstretched primary health care resources in the country, as well as on other services and society in general.
Objectives. The current study surveyed the trends in demand for laboratory determination of amphetamines, opiates, methaqualone, cannabis, cocaine and ethanol for the period 1991 - 2002, in the Western Cape. The survey was conducted by extracting the relevant data from the records of the Pharmacology/Toxicology Laboratory of the University of Stellenbosch and Tygerberg Academic Hospital. This facility processes the largest number of specimens by a single laboratory in the Western Cape.
Results. From the data obtained a seasonal pattern emerged for all substances except ethanol, with a trough appearing in early winter. Demand for ethanol analysis was fairly constant throughout the year, with a peak in the last quarter. Ethanol level was the most frequently requested analysis between 1991 and 1997. This concurs with its status as the main substance of abuse in South Africa and the rest of the world. There was an increased demand for analysis of amphetamines, opiates, methaqualone, cannabis and cocaine between 1991 and 2002. Generally dominating, next to ethanol, were requests for cannabis and methaqualone analysis. Interesting to note was the increase in demand for opiate analysis, following the trend observed in certain other regions of the world.
Conclusion. The analysis trends observed in this study demonstrate global patterns of drug abuse emerging in the Western Cape. The medical and social effects of drug abuse impose a grave responsibility on policymakers to ensure that adequate funding is available for analytical laboratories. Only in such a way can these patients be correctly diagnosed and treated.
The author(s) retain copyright on work published by AOSIS unless specified otherwise.
Licensing and publishing rights
Author(s) of work published by AOSIS are required to grant AOSIS the unlimited rights to publish the definitive work in any format, language and medium, for any lawful purpose.
AOSIS requires journal authors to publish their work in open access under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence.
Read more here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
The authors retain the non-exclusive right to do anything they wish with the published article(s), provided attribution is given to the applicable journal with details of the original publication, as set out in the official citation of the article published in the journal. The retained right specifically includes the right to post the article on the authors’ or their institution’s websites or in institutional repositories.
Previously published work may have been published under a different licence. We advise the community that if they would like to reuse the work to consult the applicable licence at article level.