Pubdate: Mon, 30 May 2005
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2005 Cape Argus.
Author: Di Caelers
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Addicts attending the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre spent R22
million on drugs last year - and most were either jobless or from poor

The illicit drug industry may be awash with money, but there is a
shortage of funds for treatment, says Grant Jardine, director of the
counselling centre.

More funds were needed because at the moment young people needing
out-patient treatment had to wait from three to six weeks,

Jardine said.

The situation was even more dire for in-patient care at a
state-subsidised rehab facility - with a wait of up to six months.

Jardine said for most people addicted to tik, out-patient
rehabilitation was the best form of treatment.

They received support and counselling while still facing the stresses
of their everyday lives. Currently the wait at the Cape Town Drug
Counselling Centre was about three weeks. Last year it was up to six

"There is a definite lack of treatment capacity. When people phone up
and say they need help, they are motivated. It is unacceptable to say
yes, we can help, but that you have to wait for six weeks to see us.

"Obviously you want to strike while the iron is hot, and it's
difficult to be proud of what you're doing when you have to give them
that kind of information," he said.

Pointing to the severity of the drug abuse crisis, Jardine said more
adolescents were taking drugs in South Africa, and were starting
younger and younger.

This was dangerous, because the earlier people started using drugs,
the more likely they were to become addicted.

Pointing to the severity of the tik crisis in particular, Jardine said
until last year, dagga and Mandrax had been the top two drugs among
addicts coming to the drug counselling centre in its 20-year history.

"But last year it was tik and heroin, with dagga and Mandrax in third
and fourth places, so you can see from that how quickly the nature of
substance abuse has changed in the Western Cape - and that's a major

He was concerned that substance abuse was not often seen as a "popular
cause" for financial support.

"People see it as affecting big, bad, nasty drug addicts. But the
reality is we're dealing mostly with adolescents who have made a
mistake in their lives.

"And we have a high success rate too. Six months after stopping
treatment at the centre, 55% of our clients are still drug-free," he

Meanwhile the Western Cape government is to take an "aggressive
approach" to the drug abuse epidemic in greater Cape Town.

A new comprehensive approach to beat the drug abuse problem,
highlighted recently in regard specifically to tik, is before the
provincial cabinet's social cluster committee.

Social services spokesman Simphiwe Xako said: "It focuses on how we
can once and for all tackle the issue of drug abuse in this province,
and contains a number of recommendations, including a very aggressive

Jardine said the government was, to some extent, meeting its
responsibility and showing a genuine desire to face up to the challenge.

But the problem belonged to society in general, which also had a
responsibility to do something to help. - Health Writer. 
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