Premier Sylvia Lucas at the sod turning ceremony of the In Patient Substance abuse Treatment Centre

Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council present
Members of the Provincial Legislature present
Executive Mayors and Councillors
Government officials
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Last year during the Substance Abuse Treatment Symposium in Kimberley, we discussed the fact that we are in dire need of a treatment facility in order to help our people who often have to struggle on their own simply because we do not have facilities to provide that help. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that we establish a centre in the Northern Cape to cater for our people.

Today sees the fruit of our labour come to reality. The turning of the sod will see a project that is desperately needed in the Northern Cape taking off the ground. With the establishment of the first of its kind in patient treatment centre we will bring not only relief, but also hope to those fighting the demon of substance and alcohol dependency. We are of the view that drug use disorders are preventable and treatable and as such we have rolled out community-based programmes to create awareness and promote prevention programmes targeting all communities, especially the youth.

Many studies conducted in South Africa are in unison in their findings that our country has a problem of alcohol and substance abuse.  The people of South Africa are users of both legal and illegal substances, making substance abuse one of our greatest social challenges, especially as it is almost always linked to irresponsible and reckless behaviour.

The abuse and dependency of drugs has reached alarming proportions. This is threatening to tear apart the fabric of our communities. Our young people, our future leaders are trapped in this vicious web of drug abuse and it requires urgent intervention. No longer can we look the other way and claim that it is not our problem.

The abuse of drugs and the flourishing narcotics and drug market it has created impacts directly on our lives. Drug abuse and drug peddling have a direct impact on our communities. We have found that where drug abuse and peddling is rife, the crime in the area escalates. Fighting drug abuse therefore requires a multi-disciplinary approach.  The Department of Social Development, with their Ke Moja prevention programme is at the forefront of this war we wage against drug abuse and dependency.

The Youth Risk Behaviour Survey conducted nationally that included amongst 1147 youth participants in 22 schools across the Northern Cape revealed some startling statistics and I am going to mention some of the findings of that survey.

Nationally 49.6% of learners had one or more drinks of alcohol in their lifetime. One in eight learners had used alcohol before the age 13.  Added to this, is the fact that significantly more 14 year olds making up 16.9% and 16 year old learners translating into 11.8% had used more alcohol when compared to learners 19 years ((7.9%) and older. More learners in younger groups had their first drink of alcohol before the age of 13 years than learners in older age groups.  This suggests that the age initiation of alcohol use has lowered over the years.

The use of alcohol amongst learners increased with age, with many having started drinking before age 13, and even more in higher grades having used alcohol in their lifetime.

The Northern Cape had the highest proportion of learners who have used alcohol on school property in school time during the time of conducting the survey. Similarly the Province also had the highest prevalence of learners who used dagga before the age of 13 (9.2%) compared to the Free State (3.2%) and the North West which had the lowest against the national average of 5.2%.  It also had the highest prevalence of learners having used dagga on school property during the month preceding the month of the survey, with children who are 13 and below, and increasing with age, being part of this group.

The statistics continue to paint even a bleaker picture. We also had the shameful honor of having the highest prevalence of learners who have used cocaine; a total of 10.4% when compared to other provinces and the national average of 6.7%. The Province also shares with Limpopo the highest prevalence of learners who have used heroine (10.4%)

Even more alarming is the fact that we have the highest prevalence of learners (10.5%) who have used “Tik”; the national average being 6.6. %. The same applies to what is referred to as used club drugs (12%).

Ladies and gentlemen, the Northern Cape had the second highest proportion of learners who reported having engaged in sex after consuming alcohol and drugs. Alcohol and other drugs decrease inhibitions, and safe sex negotiation skills, which makes young people even more vulnerable to unprotected sex associated with unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

Mental health and physical problems manifest in symptoms of depression, such as disturbed sleep, loss of appetite and pleasure, which is associated with adolescent use of alcohol, cannabis and cigarettes.  Cannabis use in particular, could lead to schizophrenia.

As we can see, the statistics paints an awful picture which demands action. As a caring and selfless government we have in the absence of a treatment centre done the best in terms of what is humanly possible in order to provide care and assistance to those in need thereof.

Government Departments and NGO’s provide extensive substance abuse prevention services as part of the Integrated Substance Abuse Prevention Strategy 2012 – 2017.

The Department of Social Development and its non-governmental partners like SANCA are also primarily concerned with the harm reduction by providing community based treatment which entails individual and family counselling and life skills development.

Since April 2013 service users who require in-patient treatment services are referred to Resilia Clinic in Upington. This is a private treatment centre registered and catering only for voluntary adults. The Department of Social Development through an agreement with the Resilia purchases 15 beds for a six-week treatment programme.

Ladies and gentleman, the journey from abuse or dependency on substances to abstinence is uniquely demanding. The treatment of substance abuse requires structured integrated interventions that address all the elements of substance abuse and the social environment of the service users

Community based treatment services rendered by Department of Social Development and generic Social Workers lack the intensity required by treatment services. Generic Social Workers are inundated by clients needing mostly child care and protection services resulting in substance abuse treatment services that require in-depth counselling being neglected. In the previous financial year; 810 service users accessed community based treatment services. About 30% of these cases were handled by SANCA Kimberley that used to service the Sol Plaatjie Municipal area and SANCA Upington currently servicing the ZF Mgawu District.

The new Public In-patient treatment centre will greatly alleviate the plight of people in need of assistance and treatment. The treatment centre will accommodate 40 beds of which 15 beds will be provided for adult males, 15 beds for adult females and 5 beds each for girls and boys under the age of 18 years. The treatment centre will accommodate voluntary and involuntary service users as well as service users with problems of legal and illegal substances

The treatment centre will provide a three month treatment programme and will include services that include amongst others Social Work services, Psychological services, Detoxification services rendered in a detoxification unit at the centre, Medical and nursing services, Occupational therapy and Psychiatric services,.

Skills development such as carpentry, welding, cooking and baking, computer skills, beauty and hairdressing will also be on offer to service users. Spiritual services, sports, recreational activities and care worker programmes make up the rest of the services on offer.

The building of this facility will also bring about much needed job creation. The construction phase is set to create an estimated 100 jobs. When fully operational the treatment centre will create approximately 74 full-time and part-time jobs.

I want   to conclude by stating that it was important for me to sketch this picture for you because as you can see it is not a desired state of affairs in terms of the devastation caused by substance abuse in particular. The damage impacts and reaches beyond just the individual, but extends and affects the family and the community. It is not only a fight that government alone must fight, but it requires a collective effort.

It requires that we stand together united in our fight to make our neighbourhoods safe and secure. It requires that we take hands with our law enforcement agencies to stop the exploitation of our young people by ruthless peddlers in our communities. It requires from us as a collective to educate our children on the dangers of substance abuse and it requires us to work together to move this great Province and its people forward.

Thank you.

Mail Us

Office of the Premier 
Private Bag X5016 
Kimberley 
8301

Leave a Comment