Campaign to root out substance abuse

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Department of Social Development has embarked on an anti-substance abuse campaign in an effort to curb the scourge.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the department said it had undertaken the initiative to dedicate more efforts towards the implementation of anti-substance abuse prevention through awareness campaigns and education as the first levels of intervention.

The campaign, which was launched in December, is a culmination of dialogues the department held with various Eastern Cape tertiary institutions and is aimed at addressing challenges faced by mainly female students, those living with disabilities, students exiting the social security grant system, as well as students from the LGBTI community.

“Among some of the findings from the dialogues was the high rate of substance abuse in the institutions. Students at the Walter Sisulu University of Technology, for example, made reference to the easy access to alcohol and related substances from a local tavern,” said the department.

The students, seeking assistance in this regard, asked the department to rollout an anti-substance abuse programme in universities, including identifying students with substance abuse problems and placing them on relevant rehabilitation programmes.

They also asked that the department to assign social workers on campuses in order to attend to the needs of students in need of counselling.

According to the students, the lack of extra-curricular activities contributed to their abuse of substances and they appealed to the department to introduce extra-mural activities programmes.

“The mandate of the Department of Social Development is to provide comprehensive, integrated, sustainable and quality services in building a caring society. The department, as the lead in the field of substance abuse, is also mandated by the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, Act no 70 of 2008 to provide for the establishment of programmes and intervention in response to the scourge,” said the department.

The campaign also seeks to:

  • Sensitise the public, particularly young people about the harmful effects of alcohol and drug abuse;
  • Ensure that different stakeholders participate in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse;
  • Provide information to community on available resources and support system regarding substance abuse; and
  • Mobilise student and general communities to take action in combating alcohol and drug abuse.

According to statistics from the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU), 10 047 people were admitted to anti-substance abuse treatment centres in 2017.

As part of the campaign, the department will host exhibitions in tertiary institutions throughout the country. The exhibitions will provide information on how substance abuse contributes to the scourge of gender-based violence and HIV infections.

The Department’s Victim Empowerment Programme will also be sharing vital information about the assistance the department has for those in need of counselling.

Activations for the Anti-Substance Abuse Campaign will continue throughout the country until 25 February 2019.

The tertiary exhibitions in the Western Cape will take place as follows:

  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington Campus; Tuesday, 28 January, 2019; from 9am – 1pm;  
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town Campus; Wednesday, 29 January, 2019; from 9am – 1pm
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville Campus; Thursday, 30 January, 2019; from 9am – 1pm