City intensifies efforts against drug abuse

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille unveiled a mural depicting a drug user’s struggle with addiction at the launch of the fourth phase of the City’s Substance Abuse Campaign at Town 2 Clinic, in Khayelitsha, on Tuesday June 7.

She was joined by representatives of the provincial Health Department and various NGOs.

Ms De Lille urged parents of children using drugs not to lose hope and to seek help from the City’s free Matrix substance-abuse recovery programmes.

Based on treatment methods developed by an American non-profit organisation, the Matrix Institute on Addictions, treatment involves an intensive 16-week out-patient programme.

“There will be time when a child on drugs will go to rock bottom. But it is not the end of the world. There is help and that help is free. The Matrix clinic is free,” she said.

In the fourth phase of the Substance Abuse Campaign, the City plans to tell the stories of users who have fought addiction. The murals are part of this drive, reflecting the struggles of three recovering addicts and their decision to change their lives by seeking help through the City’s Matrix sites.

“Since 2012, we have launched various campaigns to let those who are struggling with substance abuse know that help is available and thousands have already been able to find help through our 24-hour drug helpline and treatment at our Matrix sites,” she said.

Ms De Lille said many young people had overcome their addictions and turned their lives around. But a lot of work still needed to be done to stem the devastating effects of drug abuse, especially on the young.

“We need to end the cycle where we are losing young people to drug and alcohol abuse. We are communicating real stories from users who have been through the hard road of addiction to recovery. We will use murals across the city to communicate their stories and show others how they have found help.”

Ms De Lille said she hoped the campaign launch would inspire more users to reach out for help.

“I also want to encourage communities to keep reporting drug dealers to the 24-hour helpline,” she said.

The scourge of drug abuse wasn’t something the government could tackle on its own. It needed the public’s full support: parents, schools, the police and community leaders all needed to pull together to take back their neighbourhoods from the dealers.

Thando Lwandiso (not his real name) is clean now after a battle with substance abuse. He said he had started using drugs when he was still at school. He blamed his peers introducing him to drugs and alcohol.

He appealed to the community to offer their support to drug users instead of their judgements.

“Recovery is not easy without support. Anyone who is a drug addict and needs to change must be supported. I was lucky that I had a social worker who helped me recover. I had amazing people from the Matrix clinic,” he said.

He said when he had started with alcohol he never thought he would go as far as taking certain drugs. “Drugs are not worth it. I speak from experience. It nearly ruined my life. I am happy that I managed to come back to real life. I am proud for I am now working,” he said.

If you need help, call the City’s drug helpline at 0800 43 57 48.