Surge in treatment admissions related to methamphetamine use in Cape Town, South Africa: implications for public health

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2008 Mar;27(2):185-9. doi: 10.1080/09595230701829363.


Introduction and aims: In the past decade, methamphetamine has become increasingly a drug of concern globally. The purpose of this study is to describe the changing trends in treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse in Cape Town, South Africa and to highlight the implications of these changes for policy, practice and research.

Design and methods: Data were collected on admissions for drug abuse treatment through a regular monitoring system involving drug treatment centres and programmes in Cape Town every 6 months as part of the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU). A one-page form was completed by treatment centre personnel to obtain demographic data, the patients' primary and secondary substances of abuse, the mode, frequency and age of first use of substance and information on prior treatment.

Results: The results indicate that between 2004 and 2006 a dramatic increase in treatment admissions for methamphetamine abuse occurred, a large proportion of the methamphetamine patients are adolescents and that the drug is almost exclusively smoked.

Discussion and conclusions: The rapid increase in admissions for methamphetamine abuse is of great concern, particularly as the drug has a number of serious, often chronic, side effects and that a large proportion of the patients are adolescents. The implications for public health are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Amphetamine-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Catchment Area, Health
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methamphetamine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physicians, Family
  • Public Health / trends*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Methamphetamine