Grave concern for drug abuse in Mitchells Plain

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cape Town - Western Cape MEC for Social Development Patricia de Lille has expressed extreme concern about the findings of a recent survey into drug use amongst Mitchells Plain youth.

The study found that the area has a considerably higher rate of substance abuse than the national and international averages.

The report revealed that 9 percent of teenagers there had used tik (crystal meth) at some point and that one in 20 had used tik in the last 12 months. Drug abuse amongst teenagers was connected to the use of drugs by others in the household, attempted suicide, high-risk sexual behaviour and carrying a knife, it said.

"Dr Ali Hamdulay recently sent us the findings of his research, which will certainly help us to continuously update the targeting of our services where they are needed most.

"In fact, we are currently conducting similar research in every community in the province through a survey of 23 000 youths, and we are expecting to have the results in July this year. It is crucial that drug and alcohol policy is guided by proper research," said de Lille.

She said her department had increased funding for drug prevention, treatment and other programmes in Mitchells Plain and other areas of the province that have high rates of drug and alcohol-related problems. 

Last year, the department had also opened three new drug treatment programmes, including a new in-patient programme specifically for the youth. 

"The department has also expanded the number of spaces in treatment programmes significantly, from 3 700 in 2008 to nearly 5 000 this year. We also fund a number of NGO partners in Mitchells Plain, including Sultan Bahu, SANCA and Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre. 

"This year we have also, for the first time, introduced after-care and follow-up services for all people who attend subsidised treatment," said de Lille.

The MEC said new legislation had been passed which allows principals and teachers to do drug testing at schools. Since last year, the Department of Education has been training teachers and principals at its high risk schools in the implementation of the new legislation, including the application of drug tests. 

"Where learners test positive, the Education Department works in partnership with Social Development to provide the necessary assistance, which can include referral to drug treatment, if necessary.

"The provincial parliament also recently passed the new Liquor Act, which, among other things, bans all liquor from school premises. In the longer term, the provincial government is restructuring the Department of Social Development to align its social work teams with school circuits, so that social workers are more available to schools to assist with these challenges," said de Lille. - BuaNews