Different types of drugs in the Western Cape | Western Cape Government

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Different types of drugs in the Western Cape

Drug abuse and illicit drug trafficking remains a serious problem that affects people of all ages and backgrounds.

In 1987, the United Nations General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, to promote a drug-free society.

According to the World Drug Report of 2019 an estimated 271 million people worldwide in 2017 between the ages of 15-64 had used drugs in the previous year. This is 30% higher than it was in 2009. The report also showed a higher prevelance of the use of opiods in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and cannabis in North America, South America and Asia compared with 2009 for that age group.

Using illicit drugs can have many negative effects; here’s what it can do to you:

  • You’re at risk of an overdose and even death because you don’t know what was used to manufacture the drug.
  • Illicit drugs are mixed with harmful substances such as ammonia and rattex that can have harmful effects on your health.
  • Sharing needles and other objects puts you at risk of contracting diseases such as HIV/Aids.
  • Using illicit drugs promotes illicit production and trafficking of drugs.
  • Small and large doses can lead to a drug addiction.

Learn to how to recognise different types of drugs

Learn how to identify different types of drugs. You could help a loved one, who may be hiding an addiction.

Use this table as a guide to help you identify 5 of the most commonly used drugs. Here’s what to look out for:


Type of drug:

What it looks like:

Signs of abuse:


White chrystal powder,

chips, chunks or rocks.

  • nervous behaviour,
  • restlessness,
  • bloody noses, and
  • high energy.


White or slightly yellow

crystal-like powder, large

rock-like chunks.

  • nervousness,
  • physical activity,
  • scabs or open sores
  • decreased appetite, and
  • inability to sleep.


A green or grey mixture of

dried, shredded flowers and

leaves of the hemp plant.

  • red, blood shot eyes,
  • poor memory
  • rapid heartbeat
  • loss of control
  • hunger, and
  • anxiety.


Leafy, flowery, green shrub.

  • lack of appetite,
  • high energy
  • aggression,
  • psychotic behaviourisms, and
  • irritability.


White or dark brown powder

or tar like substance.

  • teeth clenching,
  • chills,
  • sweating,
  • dehydration,
  • anxiety, and
  • unusual displays of affection.


Drug addiction treatment and recovery

Recovering from drug addiction can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. According to the United Nations Get the Facts about Drugs guide, some substances that are addictive include caffeine (found in coffee or Coca-Cola), nicotine (in cigarettes) and alcohol. Medicines, such as painkillers are legal drugs that can also be abused.

Struggling with addiction? Consider speaking to loved ones and reaching out to our facilities that offer rehabilitative services or dial the SANCA office  closest to you.

The provincial Department of Social Development has also introduced new programmes for children and adolescents engaging in the harmful use of drugs and alcohol, in response to the growing number of younger people engaging in risky behaviour.

School-based outpatient treatment programmes have been introduced at four pilot sites in Steenberg, Blue Downs, and Eerste River. Residential treatment programmes have been established at Horizon, Clanwilliam and Lindelani Child and youth care centres.

 Remember that the first step to beating addiction is deciding that you want to change.

The content on this page was last updated on 22 October 2019