State opens drug rehab centre

2015-06-10 06:01

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THE long awaited and much called for state-run in-patient drug treatment centre for young people in the Eastern Cape will open in Nelson Mandela Bay in July.

This week the MEC for Social Development, Nancy Sihlwayi, was part of a delegation that embarked on a roadshow in the Northern Suburbs to promote the services of the treatment centre as this area has been identified as a particularly high risk area for substance abuse according to STATS SA.

The facility, named the Ernest Malgas Treatment centre, will be situated in New Brighton, hosting 38 children between 13 and 18 years for a residential treatment period of 9 weeks, featuring a multi-disciplinary approach.

The centre is expected to be operational mid-July after the building has been completed. The first group of service users will commence treatment by the end of July.

With treatment in private drug rehabilitation centres costing over R35 0000, there has been a great need for a state-run facility for parents who cannot afford to have their children admitted to private centres.

Local director of the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), Zarina Ghulam, said they have been waiting a long time for such an initiative to take place in the metro.

“We are now faced with a new drug called krokodil which is fast becoming a huge problem among the youth. Because we are an out-patient facility only, this centre (as an in-patient facility) will make it easier for us to combat drug use in the city. We are in urgent need of this facility and it could not have come at a better time,” said Ghulam.

Ghulam said SANCA treats over 60 people monthly and in the past 6 months 50% of those have been youths under 18 years of age.

SANCA said the drug of choice for young people was still tik but the opium krokodil which is mixed with various chemicals and chlorine, and sold at R50 a pill, was quickly catching up.

Practice Manager at the Step Away Treatment Centre, Sandra de Villiers, said she was delighted with the new centre promoted by the department of social development as there are no facilities for minors. 

“We fully support this as we get many inquiries for minors whom we cannot assist,” she said.

De Villiers said Step Away was a registered treatment facility with the Department of Social Development for people 18 years and older.   

“We offer a 21-day in-patient treatment programme functioning with a multi-disciplinary team consisting of a psychologist, drug counsellor and two social workers,” De Villiers said.

De Villiers said the cost for the 21-day programme is R28 000.

“Obtaining a licence for minors from the Department of Social Development is a huge undertaking because minors need educational programmes and the expense of running such a programme is very high. This could be a reason why it has taken this long for a state centre to be opened.” 

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