Digital substance abuse campaign goes live
The Department of Social Development this weekend launches an innovative anti-substance abuse campaign, using online and social media platforms. We recognise the need to be present on the platforms young people frequent. Channels to be used include Facebook, Mxit, and Twitter.
Substance abuse remains a driver of crime in our communities, and threatens the social fabric of this province. The release of the crime statistics indicate the problem is on the rise. Of grave concern is the abuse of substances among young people.
Under the tagline, “You don’t use Drugs, Drugs use you”, the campaign brings counselling and information to beat addictions, right to the fingertips of young people.
Through the Mxit component of the campaign, young people will be able to access online counselling by using their mobiles – whether they have feature or smart phones.
Research has shown that children in the province start forming risk-taking behaviours between the ages of 10 and 14 years old, and unhealthy coping strategies – including substance abuse – are developed.
Informed by the Western Cape Youth Development Strategy launched last year, the campaign will focus on young people. It warns of the danger of substance abuse, and urges them to partner with us and take back control.
The Department, through its three inpatient treatment centres, along with five funded facilities, have treated 740 people since April this year. This figure includes adults, and children aged 13 to 18. Outpatient treatment was rendered to 1 717 people in the same period.
The top substances youth seek treatment for in the Western Cape are dagga, methamphetamine and heroin. When looking at the entire group including adults, the top three substances people seek treatment for is Methamphetamine, dagga, and alcohol with heroin trailing.
The Department of Social Development funds two organisations to run the Matrix Teen programme in Eerste River, Kuilsriver and Steenberg. The outpatient treatment is a school-based pilot project with the capacity to reach 410 children per year. Based at schools, young people can access treatment with minimal disruption to their schoolwork.
One organisation runs a 16 week programme, and the other an 8 week programme. Each area services two to three schools. The programme is run under the supervision of a psychologist.
The programme itself consists of treatment, life skills and family strengthening components.
Minister Albert Fritz remains committed to the fight against substance abuse, “if we are to turn the tide and reduce the harm of drugs and alcohol abuse on our communities, then we must continue to work in a whole-of- society manner. It is up to all of us in government, the private sector, civil society and communities to build partnerships to stand against drugs and drug-peddlers in our society. We can beat substance abuse if we work, ‘Better Together’”.