Decade of fighting drugs celebrated

2018-06-28 06:02
Some of the participants during a demonstration at the event.

Some of the participants during a demonstration at the event.

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In commemoration of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking and in celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Matrix Programme, residents attended a special event last week.

The City of Cape Town’s Health Department celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Matrix Programme which aims to improve access to a range of evidence-based treatment interventions to minimise the harm caused by drug and alcohol abuse.

The celebration included a certificate ceremony for clients who have participated and completed the programme.

“We opened our first Matrix site in Tafelsig a decade ago and this has grown to include six other facilities. From July last year to the end of March this year, a total of 1566 screenings have been performed at the six sites, with the clean drug test rate for clients on the programme at 83%. For the same period, 27 clients who completed the programme received short-term work opportunities. The Matrix Programme is more than just about making substance abuse treatment accessible and affordable to those most vulnerable,” says Mayco member for safety, security, and social services, JP Smith.

The service is based within local community health facilities and aims to improve access for particularly vulnerable people such as youth, people affected and infected by HIV/Aids, STIs and TB, women (especially pregnant women), people who are unemployed, people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses, the elderly and the homeless.

The treatment, which is offered free of charge, is based on methods developed by the Matrix Institute based in the USA.

The goal of the model, which is a 16-week structured programme for adults, is to provide help so that addicts can stop using illicit substances, stay in treatment, learn about addiction and relapse, receive ongoing support from a trained therapist, become involved in self-help programmes and be monitored.

Treatment sessions, which involve individual, group and family therapy, are offered three times a week.

There are currently six Matrix sites. These are:

. Tafelsig opened in June 2008.

. Albow Gardens (established in Tableview in 2008 but subsequently moved to Albow Gardens).

. Delft South opened in 2009.

. Town 2, Khayelitsha opened in 2012.

. Parkwood opened in 2013.

. Ruimte Road, Manenberg opened in 2015.

The City’s Health Department runs regular awareness campaigns and anyone willing to receive treatment for a substance abuse problem can either call or visit the site closest to them.

They will be screened on the same day and will either slot into the programme or be referred to the appropriate service for their particular situation.

“Drug abuse affects all of us in some way as we all know someone who knows someone who has a loved one with a drug problem.

“Entire families and communities suffer as drug abuse contributes to crime, child abuse and neglect, family violence and mental and physical health problems,” says Smith.

About 162 certificates were issued at the ceremony to clients who have completed the full programme as well as to those who have completed a part of the programme.

Others who received certificates were clients who graduated in previous years, but continue to show support and visit the programme; and family members that have shown support to their loved ones.

“We commend these individuals for stepping up and admitting they have a problem. The pressure to continue the abuse is immense.

“Family involvement and support for the person in recovery remains a challenge, yet we know that clients who have family supporting them in the programme have better outcomes.

“Often clients have no transport to the sites and we also find an increase in clients struggling with food security,” says Smith.

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