Hope for drug users

2018-07-03 06:01
PHOTO: Samantha Lee

PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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One in every five people will suffer from some sort of addiction and knowing how to help them, is the key to changing these statistics.

In a bid to lend a helping hand and create awareness on help available for addicts, Western Cape Social Development Minister, Albert Fritz, led a team of social workers, substance abuse treatment specialists and police officers on a door-to-door drive in Westridge on Tuesday.

The event also commemorated International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on Tuesday.

The group started at Westridge High School and visited areas known to have a problem of drug sellers and addicts.

Several pamphlets were delivered to post boxes and handed to anyone seen outside.

Sihle Ngobese, spokesperson for Fritz, says the walk is important in highlighting the help that exists and fight against addiction.

“Everyone here works within the drug sector, be it on the crime side of dealing with drug use and dealing or on the prevention and rehabilitation of addiction. It is about awareness and getting the message out that help exists,” says Ngobese.

Fritz says: “We see horrible things happening in Mitchell’s Plain and so many of them are high on drugs. These are some of the consequences. Our goal is to reach out to those youngsters who are thinking of starting drugs and nip it in the bud.

“There are various reasons why people start using drugs but we need to make them aware that there is help.”

Department officials were joined by stakeholders from the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre (CTDCC) and Sultan Bahu Centre, both operating in the Mitchell’s Plain area.

Ashley Potts, CTDCC director says treatment is a partnership and not something they compete for.

“Where people access treatment is irrelevant. Our hope is just that they access treatment that the professional counsellors offer,” he says.

“Whether it is Westridge, Eastridge or Beacon Valley it affects every community. We cannot deny or shy away from it, it affects us all. We need to face the fact that it is out there, our concern is how we get those struggling with addiction to access treatment and services available for them.”

He adds that removing the stigma and shame attached to drug use is another common goal.

“Drug use is a dirty, nasty name. When you hear it, people think bad about it.

“We are telling addicts not to be embarrassed to seek help. We are telling them to come and bring their parents too, because the whole family is affected,” Potts continues.

Sultan Bahu manager CJ Fabricks says they run free services to the community.

"We have a few specialised treatment programmes, which include an all-female treatment programme. All the staff on this programme is female. We realised that women's needs, even in addiction, differ from that of men.

"Often drug addiction in women is coupled with a history of personal abuse. Other than physical abuse they impose on themselves, there is also an element of sexual abuse. This needs to be dealt with," says Fabricks.

"Unfortunately the need far outweighs the supply. We work with a comprehensive referral system with other centres. It is cooperation and not competition. We need active partnerships, which we have."

He adds the drive goes a long way in creating awareness on the services in the area.

"We must bring a focus to the community that treatment exists. People believe that treatment will be expensive, an in some cases it is but with us, you need only knock on the door. We must make people aware that there is help, because someone could die at a doorstep, not knowing it was a hospital."

Both the CTDCC and Sultan Bahu are funded by the department, with an additional R104m set aside to expand on Substance treatment facilities, says Fritz.

DSD has grown its network of funded services from a mere seven in 2009, to now funding 43 organisations working at 51 sites across the province.

Anyone needing more information or assistance can contact us on the www.heretohelp.co.za website, or the DSD hotline on 0800 220 250.

For more information on Sultan Bahu visit www.sbc.org.za or the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre, visit www.drugcentre.org.za

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