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CDA deputy chairman David Bayever said there were 3000 citizens incarcerated in various countries, which was a cause for grave concern for the statutory body under the Department of Social Development.
"Young girls are particularly vulnerable and easily lured into what appears as a lavish lifestyle. They are recruited in schools and tertiary institutes where education is disrupted with the promise of a healthy reward," Bayever said at the release of a review on "Drug and Substance Abuse amongst Youth and Young Women in South Africa" in Rosebank, Johannesburg yesterday.
The study was commissioned by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice and it took Bongiwe Ndondo four months to do her research.
Bayever said the department had brought home "many children born to mothers in jail in other countries for drugs".
"It is their responsibility. These are our children and we cannot leave them there," said Bayever.
"Introducing drugs, including alcohol, when under the age of 25, while the brain and body are still developing, may have profound and life-long effects, which are often only identified in later years."
Ndondo said dagga, over-the- counter and prescription drugs are the most abused substances in South Africa.
"South Africa had a serious drug usage problem, highlighted in the literature as being twice that of the global norm," she said.
According to Ndondo, current information suggests that illegal drug consumption costs the South African economy 6.4% of GDP, which is about R136-billion per year.
These costs included "treatment, social development, policing and education and awareness raising", Ndondo said.