JUNE 26 marked Substance Abuse Awareness Day and companies and organisations all over the country did their part in attempting to raise awareness about the crippling social ill. In our country, people sometimes deal with the effects of substance abuse on a daily basis, and many struggle to cope. People living with mental illness, or suffering from a previous trauma, often find themselves turning to substances in a misguided attempt to treat the symptoms of their illness, or reduce the side effects of their prescribed medication. Unfortunately, while some may feel a sense of relief at first — using these substances often interferes with psychiatric medication which may lead to relapse and hospitalisation. Substance abuse has an impact on our communities and families and has many negative effects on the youth. “Often people who are suffering with a substance abuse problem do not go and get help by themselves,” said clinical psychologist, Zamo Mbele. This is why SADAG have made it easier for you and your loved ones to access help.If you need help for any dependency or addiction to drugs, alcohol, or over the counter addictions, or if you have a loved one who’s struggling to cope and needs tips on how to deal with substance abuse, the 24 hour Substance Abuse Helpline (0800 12 13 14) offers free telephonic counselling, referrals and support. The Helpline is available seven days a week, nationwide.The National Department of Social Development, in partnership with SADAG, has run the 24 hour Substance Abuse Helpline for over 10 years. They believe it is important to reach people who have issues with drug, alcohol or other addictions and seek to provide help, support, information and referrals that can assist addicts, family members and communities in the fight against substance abuse. For many people who don’t have resources or know how to get help, there are now many options such as the free Helpline, SMS, Online counselling, The Ke Moja Substance Abuse Facebook page and The South African Depression and Anxiety Group Facebook page.