Substance abuse is affecting people across the age spectrum, and the head of one NGO says she deals with 20 new cases daily.
Venetia Orgill, of Discover Your Power, who volunteers at a drug rehabilitation centre twice a week, said the drug scourge in Mitchells Plain was “bigger than HIV”.
Her son was a heroin addict for 10 years and after being clean for three years he killed himself at the age of 27. Her daughter and son-in-law are in a treatment facility.
Orgill said on average 20 new parents came to her every day looking for help for their children or themselves.
In one case, a 58-year-old woman addicted to heroin and alcohol came for help. She had been addicted to drugs her entire life and had no family.
In another, a housewife in her 50s was rebuilding her relationship with her children after becoming addicted to tik three years ago.
Orgill said the worst cases involved children. She was trying to help a 15-year-old tik addict who wanted to go to rehab then back to school.
But there was no facility for younger addicts, Orgill told Social Development MEC Albert Fritz on Tuesday when he met NGOs that deal with substance abuse.
He said the department would look at using Vredelus House in Elsies River as an in-patient facility for younger children. The home is a place of safety for girls awaiting trial but is not full, and the girls could be moved.
Fritz said the key to stemming the drug problem was providing a diversion and he was looking at sport.
The department has partnered with a large company – which asked not to be named yet – to sponsor an academy and nine soccer teams from across the city.
To get on to the teams, boys they will need to test negative for all substances.
Another participant, Lynne Edwards of the Afrikaanse Christelike Vroue Vereeniging, said 90 percent of its cases involved substance abuse.