Government departments are working together to curb drug use in communities.
During a webinar on the treatment for and care of people with drug abuse disorders, the Department of Social Development (DSD) revealed that through a partnership with the police and health officials, DSD-run drug centres help rehabilitate drug offenders, rather than merely convicting and punishing them.
It is hoped that through treatment, people are steered away from a lifetime of drug abuse and criminal behaviour.
DSD Social Work Policy Manager Faith Namathe says the department has treatment centres in all provinces. “These centres treat people who are addicted to drugs and other harmful substances.”
She says youth and adult facilities are kept separate.
According to Namathe, prevention, early intervention, treatment and integration are the key components to combatting substance abuse.
“The aim of prevention is to minimise the risk factors that lead young people to drug use. Through the Ke Moja awareness campaign, we focus on educating children and adolescents about the dangers of drug use. We also train parents and caregivers to spot symptoms of drug use in children,” says Namathe.
The Ke Moja campaign is aimed at young people and uses peer educators to teach young people about the dangers of drug use. “Young people can relate better to each other,” she explains.
“Through our early intervention programme, we assist people who are still in the early stages of drug use.”
The DSD and its partners’ efforts are less likely to succeed without the support of addicts’ family, friends and community members, says Namathe.
She adds that to avoid users relapsing, the DSD helps reintegrate them with their communities.
Drug awareness in school curriculum
The DSD’s work is supplemented by the Department of Basic Education (DBE), which has incorporated drug awareness into the life orientation curriculum, says Sammy Maraba, the DBE’s Assistant Director for Schools Safety.
Maraba says their drug-awareness messages form a prominent part of efforts to curb drug use in society.
He says that the DBE is working with the DSD and police to make schools drug-free zones.
Colonel Rajeeve Singh of the SAPS Safe Schools Programme says the police conduct Search and Seizures at schools where necessary, but focuses mainly on educating children about the dangers of being arrested and having criminal records as a result of their drug activity.
To report drug-related activity, call the police at 10111. To find a treatment centre near you, call the DSD at 012 312 7500 or the DBE’s Schools Safety Unit at 012 357 3000.