More ef­fort needed to fight drug abuse

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WARDA MEYER

THE WESTERN Cape govern­ment has expressed con­cern about an in­crease in the num­ber of young peo­ple be­ing ad­mit­ted for psy­chi­atric care, who also have se­ri­ous sub­stance abuse dis­or­ders.

As the world com­mem­o­rates In­ter­na­tional Day against Drug Abuse and Il­licit Traf­fick­ing to­day, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said peo­ple should re­mem­ber that harm­ful drug and al­co­hol use could ruin their lives.

“In ad­di­tion to a con­tin­u­ously climb­ing rate of dru­gre­lated crime, we are see­ing a big in­crease in the num­ber of young peo­ple com­ing into our psy­chi­atric fa­cil­i­ties with sub­stance abuse dis­or­ders com­bined with se­ri­ous psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems.

“We are now at the point where be­tween 50 per­cent and 60 per­cent of ado­les­cents that come to (the) govern­ment fa­cil­i­ties for psy­chi­atric care in this prov­ince also come with a sub­stance abuse dis­or­der.”

Zille said there was a slight de­crease in the num­ber of young peo­ple en­ter­ing drug rehabilitation, be­cause more and more were need­ing psy­chi­atric care.

“This comes at a huge cost to so­ci­ety, the state, and their own op­por­tu­ni­ties in life.”

The se­nior sci­en­tist at the Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil’s al­co­hol and drug abuse re­search unit, An­dreas Plüdde- mann, high­lighted an ur­gent need for a spe­cialised law en­force­ment task force to tackle il­licit drug traf­fick­ing.

“In the Western Cape tik is still the biggest prob­lem; still the most com­mon sub­stance re­ported by peo­ple ad­mit­ted for drug coun­selling or rehabilitation, ac­count­ing for 36 per­cent.”

Plüd­de­mann said there had been a lot of ef­fort in the prov­ince aimed at treat­ment ser­vices, but there was still a need for im­prove­ment on the law en­force­ment side.

Rehabilitation re­mained a ma­jor chal­lenge, he said. In the ur­ban ar­eas there were now a num­ber of af­ford­able out­pa­tient coun­selling cen­tres, but very lit­tle in ru­ral ar­eas.

To­day the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised Ma­trix In­sti­tute on Ad­dic­tions will hand over a cer­tifi­cate to the Tafel­sig Clinic, to of­fi­cially declare the clinic’s Ma­trix project as a “pro­gramme of ex­cel­lence” in Delft.

Grant Pas­coe, may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for so­cial devel­op­ment, said the clinic was the first in Africa to have its Ma­trix pro­gramme in­ter na­tion­ally cer­ti­fied. The clinic is one of the three in the city to of­fer the Ma­trix model for drug and al­co­hol treat­ment.

Mean­while, ANC pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture mem­ber Mce­bisi Sk­wat­sha has or­gan­ised an Anti-Drug/Tik Youth Sem­i­nar in Hanover Park to­day, as part of youth month events.

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