Substance Abuse Awareness Week: Young people can beat the scourge of drugs | Western Cape Government

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Substance Abuse Awareness Week: Young people can beat the scourge of drugs

22 June 2015

Today marks the beginning of Substance Abuse Awareness Week, a campaign which seeks to raise awareness about the dangers and effects of substance abuse.

The Western Cape Government has been seized with the issue substance abuse in the province as a result we have included plans to tackle this scourge in our Provincial Strategic Goal 3 which is led by the Department of Health.

Our goal is to combine efforts and resources into tackling not only the social ills which plague the people that we serve, but the root causes which often include drug and alcohol abuse. The Departments that are involved in these efforts include Community Safety, Social Development, Transport and Public Works and Cultural Affairs and Sport.

Under the banner of this strategic goal, these departments will be rolling out many projects and campaigns in order to build healthy, resilient, wellness conscious individuals, families and communities in the Western Cape.

Today we have visited the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre (CTDCC) to see the work that they do for ourselves. The Department of Social Development funds many organisations like the CTDCC in order to ensure that those who need treatment and support in our communities are afforded those opportunities easily.

We have also had the opportunity to engage with the staff, some of the clients of the centre and community members. The idea of this visit was also to raise awareness around some of the initiatives the Western Cape Government has rolled out over the past six years in order to not only assist those battling addiction but provide alternatives to young people which can be a positive influence.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) has continued to prioritise the massive task of tackling substance abuse in the province. Social workers, together with our NGO partners, are working hard every day to help more than 10 000 people in their journey to beat their addiction to drugs and alcohol. Our approach as government is to focus on;

  • awareness,
  • early intervention,
  • statutory services and, after-care support programmes.

Over the last five years we have more than doubled our budget and this year have allocated R92.662-million to the Substance Abuse, Prevention and Rehabilitation sub-programme.

To improve access, DSD has over the last five years increased the number of drug treatment sites from 7 to 25, with the CTDCC in Mitchell's Plain being the most recently opened site.

To address heroin addiction in the province, we embarked on an outpatient-based Opiate Substitution Treatment programme in Mitchell’s Plain. The project has now been running for a year, and we have received very good feedback from our NGO partner in this venture, about the positive responses from clients.

For the first time ever, DSD will provide a substance abuse treatment programme for children and youth with acute substance dependency problems at De Novo Treatment Centre in Kraaifontein during this current financial year. It will accommodate males between 16 – 17 years old,

The Lindelani Child and Youth Care Centre in Koelenhof in Stellenbosch will accommodate males and females between 13 – 15 years old. The substance abuse treatment programme at Lindelani is running separately from all other Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC) programmes.

The Department of Community Safety has both ongoing and targeted youth programmes and interventions:

The Youth Safety and religion Partnership Programme (YSRP) is a flagship initiative of the Department of Community Safety (DoCS) aimed specifically at increasing safety through implementing targeted anti-social behaviour and youth initiatives in partnership with the religious fraternity of the province. DoCS entered into formal partnerships with 169 religious organisations during 2014 to run programmes aimed at keeping our youth off the streets during school holidays. They have also increased their funding for this programme from R5.8 million to R6.5 million to benefit over 27 000 young people.

The Further Education and Training (FET) College bursary initiative and Wolwekloof Youth Development Programme both receive continuous support from the provincial department with extensive work being done throughout the year in communities to provide better alternatives to our youth.

The Chrysalis and the Youth Work Programme is a proud initiative of the DoCS because two years ago the department submitted a proposal to link the Chrysalis Development Programme with the EPWP work programme. As a direct result of this, the Department was able to secure significant additional funding from Provincial Treasury.  Last year more than 1 450 young people were recruited from vulnerable communities, about 800 of them underwent an intensive 3 months training programme at the Chrysalis Academy after which more than 95% of them were successfully placed on a minimum work programme of 9 months, many having since been taken up in permanent work opportunities. All of them benefited from the EPWP Youth Work programme established by the Department of Community Safety.

The Chrysalis Modular Programme will be rolled out from the Wolwekloof Academy in the 2015/16 financial year, with the aim to implement the best practices achieved by the Department through its Chrysalis Academy programme and thereby further expand the opportunities for youth in the Western Cape.

The Department of Health often receives those battling addiction at the very end of their journey when they visit our facilities under very difficult conditions. Under my leadership, we have decided that this approach means that we intervene when it is already too late. We have to make the shift from curative measures to wellness emphasis so we may minimise the numbers of people presenting at our facilities due to substance abuse.

While the Department offers a hotline initiative to those who are in need of help, it is crucial that we get involved at the prevention phase.

The PSG that we lead will allow us to work with the other departments to ensure that we get involved at the awareness phase of the fight against drug and alcohol abuse.

We have found that the quadruple burden of disease which places enormous strain on the public health system is exacerbated by the abuse of substances like drugs and alcohol. Besides the adverse effects on one’s health, substance abuse has given rise to mental illnesses in the province which has created a massive burden on our public health facilities.

We have had to accommodate those suffering with acute mental illnesses within our facilities to absorb the accelerating numbers.

One of the projects we will embark on with the Department of Transport and Public Works will speak to their own Safely Home Campaign with the purpose of raising awareness about the road fatalities which are a direct result of substance abuse.

The public health system also receives large numbers of our patients who have be embroiled in interpersonal violence due to substance abuse. This is also why it is important for the Health Department to be part of these transversal government initiatives. We no longer can afford to work in silos. Young people across the country are under siege. Substance Abuse is wreaking havoc in the lives of young people and it is time that we not only assist those that are battling addiction, but provide alternatives for those looking for positive influences.

Our visit to the CTDCC this morning has confirmed that young people can beat the scourge drugs and alcohol abuse with the right kind of support from each role player in our society.