Door-to-door approach to tackle substance abuse

Members of various organisations and the Department of Social Development doing the door-to-door campaign.

Substance abuse is everyone’s concern, said MEC for Social Development, Albert Fritz, at the department’s substance abuse awareness campaign in Beacon Valley on Monday November 14.

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment specialists from NGOs, the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre (CTDCC) and Sultan Bahu rehabilitation Centre participated in the door-to-door campaign.

With them were the department’s social workers from the Metro South Regional Office and Mitchell’s Plain Local Office.

The group started at Hengelaar and Gymkhana streets, visiting more than 15 homes.

Beacon Valley resident Keegan van Niekerk said drug houses are in almost every street. “As a resident, it is frustrating to see how drugs are being sold and used by young people and adults. With the use of drugs there is crime. For drug users to feed their habits, they turn to crime, they steal, rob and break into people’s homes. “People work hard for their items and then they are mugged. It is not fair, so I support the campaign,” he said.

Fatima Saban from Beacon Valley feels that drug activity is increasing, making the area unsafe for residents. “You are no longer safe in this area, you can become a victim within minutes. Drugs are breaking down our community and I think that somehow government needs to take action regarding the drug activity,” she said.

The Sultan Bahu Centre’s treatment manager, Shuaib Hoosain, said it is important for people to know what treatment is available in Mitchell’s Plain.

“As we know, Mitchell’s Plain is the drug capital, and yes it is a sad thing to say. Drug activity is a major concern, so it is important to create awareness about the effects of drugs as well as the services available in the area,” he said.

He added that patients at the centre are mostly addicted to heroin.

The centre is based in Westridge and is aimed at using a holistic approach to caring for patients.

Mr Hoosain said at the end of the seven weeks of outpatient treatment their aim is to have a person who is drug free and who has a sense of responsibility which will enable them to maintain sustained and gainful employment and be in the position to give back to society.

Ilaam Jacobs, a counsellor at CTDCC, said their concern is that drugs are becoming normalised among young people.

“I think that children should be educated about drugs and there should be programmes in schools zooming into self-esteem and peer pressure,” she said.

CTDCC is an outpatient centre that provides confidential assistance to individuals and families experiencing problems with drug abuse.

Mr Fritz said these are two centres in Mitchell’s Plain which the department supports and who deliver excellent services to the community. “We currently have 25 centres in the province, Mitchell’s Plain has four, an area that has the most resources. In November we normally focus on substance abuse, and as we know the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign is coming up. And we see the link between sexual violence and drugs,” he said.

Mr Fritz added that the department launched the campaign online with a substance abuse mobi-site and Facebook page.

He said public engagement with these platforms has been encouraging as there have been a total of 66 291 engagements with the Facebook platform, which also links to a mobi-site. “The Department of Social Development (DSD) has placed greater emphasis on not only expanding services for substance abuse treatment, but also information on how to access them. The recently launched substance abuse site provides essential information on how to identify substance abuse, and where to access help,” he said.

Mr Fritz said the department has allocated R58 million this financial year to over 36 NGO partners working at 51 sites across the province, for substance abuse treatment services. He said the department will continue rendering and expanding quality community-based drug treatment services for the poor.

“For example, DSD has expanded funding for the opiate substitution treatment programme at Sultan Bahu to
R2 million this financial year. This will increase the number of beneficiaries from 45 to 94, aside from the other programmes run at this facility.

“We will also be expanding the number of substance abuse treatment workers. In partnership with the University of the Western Cape, 57 community representatives graduated this year from an intensive substance abuse treatment programme,” he said.

People can visit or contact the DSD hotline on 0800 220 250. Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre 021397 0103 Sultan Bahu Centre on 021 372 2945.