Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jul 2006
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2006 Cape Times
Author: Karen Breytenbach
Bookmark: (Marijuana)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


With tik abuse more than doubling in the Wsetern Cape  in the past
year and 80% of its users being under 21,  it is disturbing that only
7% of referrals to clinics  are made by schools, the SA National
Council on  Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) has said.

More than half of those needing drug or alcohol  rehabilitation are
referred to clinics by their  families or check themselves in.

Data on drug and alcohol abuse during the past year,  gathered from
the six Sanca treatment centres in Cape  Town and that in George, were
released yesterday.

The Cape Town centres, employing 22 dedicated social  workers who
treat about 100 outpatients a month, are in  Athlone, Atlantis,
Khayelitsha, Mitchell's Plain, Paarl  and Tygerberg.

In George, the council employs only one full-time  social worker, who
deals with about 20 outpatients a  month.

The Western Cape has the third-highest number of  patients, with 12.5%
of all Sanca patients being  treated here. Most of the patients are
blacks (39%),  followed by whites (34%), coloureds (20%) and Asians
(7%), and 82% of all patients are male.

Sanca regional director David Fourie said about 53% of  local drug
users abused tik (methamphetamine), a  staggering 150% increase from
this time last year. Most  distressing was that tik had now eclipsed
alcohol as  the main substance of abuse, said Fourie.

About 19% of Sanca's patients abuse alcohol, 12% abuse  dagga and 7%
are addicted to heroin, a 4% increase from  a year ago.

"It must, however, be added that the recorded numbers  may have
increased in the past year because the  Department of Social Services
sponsored an extra three  posts, allowing us to reach more people.

"We were disappointed to hear that the department  decided against
renewing these contracts."

Instead the department, in co-operation with the  province, last week
launched a three-year programme to  train 1 000 unemployed and
unskilled to go into  communities and facilitate early intervention in
drug  abuse.

"This will help us to identify abusers, but our  greatest need is for
educated and experienced social  workers who have the appropriate
skills to treat  patients," said Fourie.

National Sanca spokeswoman Elizabeth Robinson said a  third of
patients nationally were 21 years and younger,  one third between 22
and 35 years, and the rest 36  years and older.

"It is alarming to note that 18% of the patients were  younger than 18
years," she said.

Close to 40% of patients are employed, full-or  part-time, 25% are at
school or university, and 26% are  unemployed.

"It is distressing to note that less than 10% of  referrals to clinics
are from schools, considering that  (a quarter) of all patients are at
school," said  Robinson.

In the Western Cape, about 55% of patients check  themselves in or are
referred by relatives, 12% are  referred by employers, 7% by schools
and about 3% by  churches. 
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