In an effort to win the war against drugs and substance abuse in South Africa, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu launched the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2019- 2024 in June 2020.
The NDMP is a five-year programme of action that focuses on demand, supply and harm reduction strategies, and it aims to realise a drug free South Africa. It is implemented by various government departments and stakeholders.
The NDMP recognises that the country has become a consumer, producer and a transit country for drugs. Because of this, it is easy for vulnerable people like the youth to access drugs and get addicted quickly, and this leads to far reaching effects on the users, families and the society.
To realise a drug free South Africa, government has intervened through the NDMP's evidence-based public health and social justice principles that focus on helping affected people.
“The NDMP is a blue-print for combating the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse which has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa. The overarching goal of the NDMP is to prevent drug use before it starts, early intervention to ensure substance users receive treatment and rehabilitation services and reducing the demand for illicit drugs,” says Minister Zulu.
Gauteng launches a 24-hour anti-substance abuse helpline
Recently, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi officially launched a 24-hour toll free Anti-Substance Abuse helpline, a first of its kind in South Africa.
The helpline is one of government’s response dedicated to assist addicts who need rehabilitation but cannot afford to go to private facilities.
The helpline has five social worker managers, 18 supervisors, 137 social workers and 23 auxiliary workers with more than 6 000 cases that have already been logged since October 2022. Most people who contact the helpline are families that seek help for their loved ones.
The Premier says other provinces have shown interest in adopting the same idea.
In order for addicted people to get admitted at a rehabilitation centre in Gauteng through the helpline, they have to give consent and then go for screening, medical examination and mental evaluation.
After passing these stages, they go through a detox programme in a rehabilitation center.
As part of the rehabilitation programme, the patients attend skills development programmes and also get access to bursary opportunities and other available resources.
“We have to ensure that there are sporting activities, poetry sessions, and other extra-mural activities at community centres for the youth so that they do not get bored, especially during school holidays,” says Premier Lesufi.
The helpline is available for people in Gauteng only. To get help, call 0800 228827 or email GPAntiSubstanceAbuse@Gauteng.gov.za or dial *134*47472# and follow the prompts.