STATE-OWNED drug rehabilitation centre will be opened by March 2011 to help drug addicted youths in Johannesburg.
Wandile Zwane, the director of human development in the City of Johannesburg
The centre, in Northgate, will accommodate 10 patients because treatment depends on intimacy, says Wandile Zwane, the director of human development in the City of Joburg.
Drug abuse is a growing problem in South Africa, he says, and it is now affecting schools. Although there are areas such as Westbury and Eldorado Park that are historically known for drug abuse, other areas such as the inner city and Soweto are also affected by the problem. “You will find a kid in Zola affected by this thing [drug abuse] and he is just stuck.”
He explains: “The whole idea of the centre is that the City makes the infrastructure available and the service provider provides service.”
Zwane says the City will appoint an NGO to run the centre on its behalf. The ideal NGO will be one that is experienced in dealing with addicts and can offer in-patient and out-patient treatment, which is part of the City’s two-fold strategy to fight addiction. In in-patient treatment, the drug addict is removed from the influencing environment and placed in a drug rehabilitation centre. In out-patient treatment, patients live and get treatment outside the centre.
In-patient treatment will last six weeks. Those being admitted for in-patient care will have to undergo detoxification when they enter, have medical treatment and check-ups, physical training sessions and therapy and counselling. They will also be expected to keep the centre clean. Families of patients will only be able to visit on Saturdays, between 1pm and 5pm.
Once addicts have been through the six-week in-patient programme, they will move on to the out-patient programme, which will comprise group counselling where they will share experiences of living drug-free and integrating back into society. These sessions will be two hours a week and will run for 12 weeks. This approach will help create a supportive network among patients that will encourage a healthy lifestyle free of drug abuse.
According to a report issued by Zwane, the NGO that wins the tender will be expected to have offices in communities where it can offer after-care counselling and group support sessions to patients who are reintroduced to society after rehab. By law, only people who have the right accredited training can work in drug rehabs, and the NGO will be expected to have on staff a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, a physiotherapist and a nurse, assisted by administrative staff.
The centre will cater for people who cannot afford private rehab. These people include youngsters addicted to drugs and alcohol, as well as City of Johannesburg employees. “In terms of the legislation on drug rehabilitation, the municipality has an important role to play on the local level,” adds Zwane.
Admission to the centre will be limited to patients who volunteer to take part in the programme, he explains in his report. It will not accept addicts sent to rehab against their will, except young people who are sent as part of a diversion order to avoid a criminal record. This will ensure that resources are focused on people with whom the chances of success are greater.
Although there are a number of rehabs in Johannesburg, they are expensive. The only state-run institutions that deal with addiction in Gauteng are in Magaliesberg and Boksburg. Zwane says the waiting period to be admitted to these institutions is two years. Patients are left with the option of an out-patient treatment service, which does not take them out of the environment that may be contributing to their addiction.