Fascinating data has emerged outlining the behaviours and frequently abused drugs-of-choice for patients treated for addiction in the Western Cape, with tik, cannabis, alcohol and heroin among the harmful substances most commonly at the heart of patients struggles. 

The Department of Social Development (DSD) said that they remain committed to ensuring that those struggling with substance abuse problems get the help they need, and said that the report by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (SACENDU) highlights the need to make the public aware of the various addiction centres and support networks available to them.  

Report outlines prominent drugs abused in WC  

The latest Phase 47 report (2021) said that data collected from 37 specialist treatment centres/programmes participating in the project between July – December 2019  indicated the prevalence of the following drugs at the heart of addiction issues plaguing patients:

  • Methamphetamine (‘Tik’): (30%), 
  • Cannabis: (25%), 
  • Alcohol: (19%) and 
  • Heroin: (14%), 

These substances comprise 89% of all admissions to the facilities in the Western Cape that provided data towards the study.

The study reported that the proportion of admissions for cocaine in centres across the country remained “fairly low and stable across all sites”, saying that cocaine is mostly reported as a secondary substance of use. 

“Between 4% (CR) and 13% (KZN) of patients in treatment had cocaine as a primary or secondary drug of use, remaining stable across sites. Relatively few patients younger than 20 years were admitted for cocaine-related problems.,” the report read. 

Western Cape treatment facilities assist over 2 500 patients in six months 

The report went on to say that 2654 persons were treated across all 37 treatment centres in the second half of 2019, with between 70% – 88% of the clients identified as male,. They noted that however that gender differences were observed for various primary substances of use. 

“The Western Cape has experienced a gradual increase in the proportion of female patients accessing treatment over the past five years,” it read. 

Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, said that the DSD holds a database with all the registered Substance Abuse treatment options in the province, and insisted that  the availability of easy-access, high-quality treatment services is “an important means for tackling substance abuse disorders (SUD) and reintegrating individuals back into society”.

Services available for those suffering with substance abuse problems  

Services offered by the Department and its NPO partners include:

  • Awareness, primary prevention, early intervention, aftercare services;
  • Specialised services for victims of gender-based violence. Female service users can also be admitted with their minor children for the duration of their treatment.
  • Specialised treatment for adolescent boys between 13 and 17 years of age, at two funded inpatient treatment centres; and two for boys and girls at DSD own centres;
  • Residential or Inpatient Treatment centres and non-residential outpatient (also known as community-based) treatment centres for adults;
  • Reintegration and after-care support;
  • School-based programs at identified high-risk schools aimed at early detection and appropriate interventions for children involved in substance abuse.

“I would also like to thank all the individuals, communities, organisations and civil society working together to help provide support to those experiencing a substance use disorder. The services being offered are here to help the public,” said Fernandez.

If you or someone you care about has a substance use disorder or if you feel that you can’t cope with the symptoms of substance abuse in your home or place of work, getting help is the first step.

For more information on how to get the right help call 0800 220 250, or visit local offices at the Department of Social Development. Alternatively, visit www.westerncape.gov.za/substance-abuse for more information.

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Presh JM Reporter

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