25 June 2008

New substance abuse helpline

A toll-free substance abuse helpline is being launched today - the International Day Against Drug Abuse.

For the last 20 years, the UN has dedicated the 26th June as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as a symbol of its commitment to an international society free of drug abuse.

This day is observed world-wide and, in line with this day and its message, The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and the Department of Social Development will be launching South Africa’s first toll-free Substance Abuse Helpline.

“Many people are marginalised or at risk due to their life-circumstances and made more vulnerable through drug use. This line offers support, guidance and help for people addicted to drugs and alcohol as well as their families, no matter where in South Africa they are”, says Janine Shamos, Project Director of SADAG.

Substance Abuse is a huge problem in South Africa and those affected are getting younger all the time. According to SACENDU, in the Northern Cape, 36% of patients admitted to rehabilitation and treatment centres for substance abuse were aged 10 and 19. According to the Youth Risk Survey of 2002, 49% of teens use alcohol, 31% smoke and 13% use dagga.

“The youth need to be empowered to take control of their lives and not let drugs control them”, says Shamos.

There is a severe shortage of health services in South Africa and the helpline enables people across the country to access help, support and appropriate treatment.

Warning signs
If a parent believes his or her child may be drinking or using drugs, here are some things to watch for:

  • Physical evidence of drugs and drug paraphernalia
  • Behavioural problems and poor grades in school
  • Emotional distancing, isolation, depression or fatigue
  • Change in friendships or extreme influence by peers
  • Hostility, irritability or change in level of cooperation around the house
  • Lying or increased evasiveness about after school or weekend whereabouts
  • Decrease in interest in personal appearance
  • Physical changes such as bloodshot eyes, runny nose, frequent sore throats, rapid weight loss
  • Changes in mood, eating or sleeping patterns
  • Dizziness and memory problems

Useful telephone numbers
Substance Abuse Line 0800 12 13 14
SMS 32312
SADAG 011 262 6396

Read more:
SA rehabs to be closely monitored
Alcohol hits women harder

June 2008


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