Mpumalanga launches drug abuse awareness campaign

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Mpumalanga department of health and social service will today hold an awareness campaign about the dangers of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Balfour.

William Lubisi, the Social Service MEC said the theme is: Drugs' Treatment Works.

He said this theme underpins the importance of treatment, and the fact that people can return to normal lives if they seek help and go into treatment.

Lubisi said: "There is a misconception that 'once a drug abuser, always a drug abuser' and this perpetuates the stigma.

"Undoubtedly, drug abuse is a major cause of crime, poverty, reduced productivity, unemployment, dysfunctional family life, and escalation of chronic diseases such as HIV-Aids and TB," said Lubisi.

Lubisi said drug abuse affected everyone across social, racial, cultural, language, religious and gender barriers. He added that it affected them directly and indirectly.

Lubisi said Mpumalanga is experiencing an increase in substance abuse and associated problems.

"The abuse of heroin and similar habit- forming substances in Emalahleni and other areas in the province necessitate a concerted effort by all stakeholders to come up with intervention strategies," he said.

He said the primary substance of abuse in Mpumalanga is alcohol, followed by cannabis.

"Mandrax use is on the decline due to the fact it is not easy to get and its effect is not as high as heroin."

He said there were two residential treatment centers in Mpumalanga. Swartfontein Treatment Centre in White River has a yearly budget of R7,7million and accommodates 90 adults.

The other is Mkhondo Athalia Treatment Centre in Piet Retief which is being subsidised at a monthly cost of R1300 per person attending. It has a capacity to admit 20 people.

"We want to inform all people that treatment works, and to seek assistance as soon as possible.

"Drug and alcohol abuse are among the bad habits that need to be combated. To fight the scourge of substance abuse, we will rely on collaboration with civil society, faith-based organisations, community based organisations and all government departments," said Lubisi.