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Stopping drug use before it starts

Written by Allison Cooper

Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu says every South African has a role to play in creating awareness about the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. image-left

Minister Zulu recently outlined government's National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2019 – 2024. 

The five year plan focuses on demand, supply and harm reduction strategies, for youth and high-risk and vulnerable groups. As such, the department has focused on expanding free access to public subtance abuse facilities, particularly in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Northern Cape and North West, where previously there was none.

“Substance abuse treatment at private treatment centres is not affordable for many. There is now at least one public drug treatment centre in each province, which renders treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare services to substance users to ensure full reintegration back into families and communities.”

The Minister says the high levels of alcohol and drug abuse and the emergence of cheap and easily accessible drugs has reached epidemic proportions. 

“Along with the emergence of greater availability and trafficking of these cheap, highly addictive drugs, we must also confront the emerging crisis of intravenous drug use which is driving new HIV infections and hepatitis,” she says.

The plan focuses on these priority areas, namely:

  • Demand reduction, through the prevention and treatment of drug use, misuse and abuse.
  • Ensuring availability of and access to controlled substances exclusively for medical and scientific purposes.
  • Identifying trends and control of new drugs.
  • Promoting governance, leadership and accountability for a coordinated multi-sectoral effective response.
  • Strengthening data collection, monitoring, evaluation and research evidence.

Minister Zulu says the seven priority areas will ensure that the country focuses on the things that matter most. “Key amongst these is preventing drug use before it starts… Prevention is better than cure,” she says.