South Africa: Breaking the chain of drug addiction


The Ministry of Social Development (DSD) sets up intervention programs to combat drug addiction, particularly among young people.

Speaking at a drug prevention webinar on Friday, DSD social work policy officer Faith Namathe said the age of experimentation is decreasing and the type of drugs used by teenagers is more addictive.

“Alcohol and drug use among children and adolescents is of concern. We need to implement evidence-based programs and diversion programs should be made more accessible to young people involved in criminal activity because of their drug addiction.”

Namathe said that prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation are among the key elements in the fight against drug addiction.

Through the “Ke Moja” campaign, which targets pre-school learners and lower primary learners, children are provided with basic information about drugs and life skills, and this is done through the use of puppets .

“The prevention program also includes peer educators, who empower young people to take the lead against drug abuse in schools and communities.

“A holiday program is held during school holidays and provides participants with information about drugs, the dangers of addiction, problem solving, crime prevention strategies and how to deal with peer pressure” , said Namathe.

Early intervention aims to interrupt the progression of substance abuse to higher levels of addiction, as well as to identify risky behaviors.

The program also empowers those involved to recognize the warning signs of drug addiction and educate users and families about drug addiction and other social ills.

It provides for the development of socio-therapeutic skills and interventions, as well as referral to treatment.

In addition, treatment aims to reduce the negative health and social consequences associated with drug abuse. Treatment is provided to users, including inpatients and outpatients, who are accessed by voluntary and involuntary admission.


The reintegration and aftercare program ensures the integration of people who have undergone treatment and gives service users additional skills to maintain treatment gains, sobriety and avoid relapses.

Through the program, service users are encouraged to participate in support groups and are connected to resources for their development and well-being.

Namathe stressed that the issue of rehabilitation is very important to help a person not relapse, which is part of the healing process.

“People who use drugs deserve respect and we must avoid the language we use when dealing with people who suffer from drug addiction. We must ensure that our services are available and accessible to service users.

“He is [also] important to involve parents so that they can be ambassadors in their homes and spread the message. Drug addiction is a family disease because if one member is addicted, all family members are affected,” Namathe said.

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Katlego Boshielo, from the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (SANCA) in Pretoria, said it was impossible to talk about any township in the country without mentioning drugs and drug addiction.

SANCA’s programs are integrated with demand reduction and harm reduction strategies to help address substance abuse and addiction.

“With drug addiction awareness and prevention campaigns, we are able to preserve the families of those affected by drug addiction and those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs. This helps create education and awareness for community members about the harmful effects of alcohol and illicit drugs,” Boshielo said.

She stated that the primary objective of the council is to provide excellent service to all communities, groups and individuals in the prevention and treatment of substance/chemical addiction.

“Our secondary goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle to our patients through targeted and effective treatment programs. This is done by helping patients grow into fully functioning individuals and realize their self-esteem,” said Boshielo.

If you are struggling with drug addiction and need help, contact the 24-hour drug addiction helpline on 0800 12 1314 or text 32312.


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