Some drugs can be found in homes and have become such an integral part of everyday life that they are usually not considered harmful substances, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) has said.
"Most of us use drugs every day, whether it's caffeine, nicotine or alcohol. Ours is a drug-taking society and more people are abusing drugs today than in any other time in history," Sadag project director Janine Shamos said.
This was because some drugs were widely available, acceptable and legal, Shamos said.
"We live in a country and climate where drinking is a cultural pastime. Because it is socially acceptable and legal, it is not regarded as a problem."
Shamos defined a drug as any manufactured substance that was used to alter the user's state of mind. She said "use becomes abuse" when the user's daily routine became so focused on them "getting their next fix".
"Addicts will also tend to spend more time and money on the drug. They may also push their loved ones away because of denial."