New Rehab Centre Will Combat Alcohol and Drug Abuse amongst Our Youth
This plan, which is being driven by the Premier's Office and implemented across provincial departments in an integrated way, is the most comprehensive policy response to substance abuse in the country.
The new rehabilitation centre in Eerste River represents a shift in emphasis towards preventing chronic addiction before it occurs. It is the first rehabilitation centre to specifically target young people between the ages of 13 and 18 who abuse drugs and alcohol in the province.
The scale of alcohol and drug abuse in the Western Cape has reached crisis proportions over the last few years, with younger and younger people abusing substances.
The statistics speak for themselves:
- Children (defined as youths under the age of 19) use more tik than adults.
- According to the Medical Research Council, persons under the age of 20 in treatment for tik-related problems increased from 4% in 2003 to 57% in the first half of 2007.
- The 2008 Youth Risk Behaviour Survey reported that 41% of Western Cape secondary school learners sampled (grades 8-11) had engaged in binge-drinking in the month prior to the survey.
- Two in every five schools report the presence of drug merchants on the premises during school hours.
It is clear that urgent intervention is required to curb alcohol and drug abuse amongst our youth. The new rehabilitation centre is one of the ways we hope to achieve this.
The centre can accommodate 40 patients between the age of 13 and 18 years at any given time. Patients are admitted on a voluntary basis and are either referred by schools, parents or courts. As an inpatient centre it will help drive the Western Cape Government's new prevention-focused approach by:
- Treating young people have just begun using drugs and alcohol, before the onset of chronic addiction
- Separating young people from adults receiving treatment as adults tend to be more severely addicted and have a history of criminality
- Removing young people from socially dysfunctional environments (such as their homes) which fuel their alcohol and drug abuse.
The centre will provide a range of services including: social work, child and youth care work, medical/mental health care, detoxification services, occupational therapy and education services aimed at integrating school curriculum subjects with the treatment programme.
Over the next five years, we will be establishing a number of youth intervention and treatment facilities in the province, as well as youth outpatient treatment programmes for secondary school learners to be operated from school premises after school hours. The first is due to open in the second half of the year, also in Eerste River.
Our role as government is to give people - and especially young people - the opportunities and the means to succeed in life. It is up to each and every young person - with the help of their parents and teachers - to use these opportunities and take responsibility for their own lives.
This centre and the others like it that we open are designed to provide such an opportunity. Empowering young people to make the right choices is the key to winning the war against drug and alcohol abuse.