Women’s month: Substance abuse treatment and care available for women | Western Cape Government

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Women’s month: Substance abuse treatment and care available for women

12 August 2021

The circumstances and experiences of women are very different from their male counterparts. This fact is reflected in females experiences of substance use disorders (SUDs).

Women with SUDs often experience challenges with accessing treatment, and are believed to be underrepresented at treatment facilities. Social and cultural taboos and stigma mean their SUD challenges are often not acknowledged by themselves and their families which makes getting the right help even more challenging.

The latest Phase 47 report (2021) compiled by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) reveals that the Western Cape has experienced a gradual increase in the proportion of female patients accessing treatment over the past five years. In the study conducted, 2654 persons were treated across all 37 treatment centres in the second half of 2019. Across all sites between 70% – 88% of the clients were identified as male.

“We acknowledge that women face systematic, structural, personal barriers, and also have to deal with trauma related to physical and sexual abuse. In this regard, we are constantly dedicating resources to enhance treatment options that are designed to meet the needs of women.

Given the ongoing violence against woman and children, it has become even more urgent for Government to support SUD interventions being offered as there is a direct link between the two respective concerns,” said the Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.

The availability of easy-access, high-quality treatment services is an important means for tackling SUD and reintegrating women back into society.

The provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) with the support of its Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) partners provides a wide array of (SUD) programmes, ranging from prevention, early intervention through to community-based and in-patient rehabilitation and aftercare services.

All programmes funded by the DSD are registered in accordance with the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, Act 70 of 2008.

Services offered by the DSD and its NPO partners for women include, amongst others:

•         Awareness, primary prevention, early intervention, aftercare services;

•         Specialized services for victims of gender-based violence. Female service users can also be admitted with their minor children for the duration of their treatment.

•         Specialized treatment for adolescent girls between 13 and 17 years of age, at funded inpatient treatment centres;

•         Residential or Inpatient Treatment centres and non-residential outpatient (also known as community-based) treatment centres for women;

•         Reintegration and after-care support;

•         School-based programs at identified high-risk schools aimed at early detection and appropriate interventions for young females involved in substance abuse.

“I would like to thank all the individuals, communities, organisations and civil society working together to help provide support to those experiencing a SUD. The services being offered are here to help the public,” concluded Minister Fernandez.

Finding the right help:

Earlier this year, the Department launched its substance use disorder campaign that makes use of a series of videos and visuals depicting that when you access the right help for yourself, your loved ones can be positively affected too. 

A key focus of the campaign is alerting the public about the importance of accessing the right help for any person dealing with a SUD, and how the right help can make all the difference in getting their lives back on track.

Please see link to campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/WesternCapeGovernment/posts/4370120086336929

If you or someone you care about has a substance use disorder or if you feel that you can’t cope with the symptoms of substance abuse in your home or place of work, getting help is the first step.

The treatment of a SUD is a process, and ongoing support is provided throughout a programme.

For more information on how to get the right help call 0800 220 250,  or visit our local offices at the Department of Social Development or visit www.westerncape.gov.za/substance-abuse.

Media Enquiries: 

Joshua Covenant Chigome

Spokesperson for the Minister of Social Development, Minister Sharna Fernandez

Tel: 021 483 9217

Cell: 083 661 4949

Email: Joshua.chigome@westerncape.gov.za­