Govt to expand prevention and treatment services to cater for growing problem
The breakdown in the family unit is one of the main reasons for the spike in drug and alcohol abuse among the youths as well as adults, Mangaung Metro executive mayor Thabo Manyoni said.
Speaking at the launch of the city’s Local Drug Action Committee (LDAC) at the Bloemfontein City Hall on Wednesday, Manyoni said the family unit was an important pillar in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse but it was unfortunate that this unit no longer stood as firmly as it used to do in the past.
The mayor said while the establishment of the LDAC was expected to play a significant role in the fight, its work would be more effective if it was supported by a stronger family unit.
“Some of the problems faced by youths today would not be there if we had functional family units,” said Manyoni at the launch of the Mangaung LDAC, which has been set up in partnership the Free State department of social development.
“Drug abuse is very high in the country. It is more than double the global average and that is a very disturbing situation. Is this the future that Mandela wanted? The Freedom Charter is very clear about what we should enjoy in a free South Africa and drug and alcohol abuse is not one of them,” he added.
At least 42 percent of patients admitted to treatment centres in the Free State during the first half of last year reported with an alcohol problem while over 30 percent had abused drugs,” he said.
The mayor encouraged communities to work closely with the LDAC so that they can effectively deal with the problem of drug and alcohol abuse. He said without the support of the communities, the anti-drug committees would not be able to achieve even half their tasks.
“Shouting at a problem would not resolve it. No matter how many committees you form, the problem won’t go away. Everyone needs to be involved in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse,” the mayor explained.
Aurora Alcohol and Drug Centre director Gert Kruger told the meeting at least 42 percent of patients admitted to treatment centres in the province reported with an alcohol problem while 33 percent had a drug problem.
According to a study by the SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) at least 32 percent of youths under the age of 20 years who were admitted during the first half of last year had an alcohol problem.
Some of the most widely used drugs include dagga, mandrax, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine commonly known as Crystal Meth.
Social development MEC Sisi Ntombela announced in her budget vote speech in Sasolburg on Wednesday that the provincial government would be setting up respite centres to assist those struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.
She admitted that the drug problem was worsening in the province and urgent measures were needed to curb the vice.
“There is a rise in substance abuse in the province, therefore a demand is growing for prevention and treatment services.
“The department will establish the first ever “state-run” treatment centre and a halfway house for substance abuse for dependent persons. The treatment centre will be established in Botshabelo and a building contractor is already on site to start construction… for the next 12 months.
A total of R68 million has been set aside for this purpose and in the 2016/17 financial year, R42.5 million has been set aside for the project.
The second centre in Clarens will serve as a halfway house that will prepare substance abuse dependent persons especially the youths for re-integration into community by providing skills development and life skills programmes. The project will be launched on April 1.