The City of Cape Town has opened a new outpatient treatment clinic in Tafelsig for alcohol and drug users and their families.
This Tafelsig Outpatient Drug Treatment Facility is the first in a series of similar outpatient centres that the City of Cape Town intends to open in municipal clinics, as part of its broader strategy to address drug and alcohol abuse.
Based on the Matrix Model of evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment, the clinic is the first of its kind in Cape Town.
The Matrix Model was originally developed to deal with the cocaine, crack and methamphetamine epidemic in the USA in the 1980s, after it was found that people who were using these kinds of drugs were not responding to conventional treatment methods for heroin and alcohol.
Over the past 20 years the research has been expanded to include alcohol and heroin users and the model is now used successfully to treat all drug and alcohol problems in many different countries and cultures.
These centres will be established in areas where available data from the Medicines Research Council and other sources indicate the need is greatest. The City aims to treat 300 patients per year at each clinic, and assist many more with guidance and information.
The City’s Drug and Alcohol strategy was introduced in response to the increase in drug and alcohol related crime in Cape Town from around 5 000 incidents per year in 2001 to 25 000 per year in 2006, said Executive Mayor Helen Zille, speaking at the launch of the clinic.
“We have a constitutional obligation to secure public health and prevent what the Constitution describes as ‘public nuisance’,” she noted.
In addition, our IDP focus is to tackle Cape Town’s key developmental challenges by encouraging economic growth and job creation. Drug and alcohol abuse creates obstacles to this objective. It also places an enormous burden on our health system with high incidences of family violence, heart and lung disease, HIV, other STDs, TB and Hepatitis C, and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, not to mention the undermining of the overall quality of our urban environment, and the burden it places on our criminal justice system.”
The City has also established the Cape Town Drug Action Committee and a system of sub-committees to implement, monitor and evaluate the City’s Strategy in line with national legislation.
These are all in line with the National Drug Master Plan (2006-2011) and the new Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill that was passed in Parliament on Tuesday.
At the launch, Executive Mayor Zille paid tribute to Dr Ivan Toms, the City of Cape Town’s former Executive Director for Health, who died tragically in March this year.
“Dr Toms played a pivotal role in our initiative to build outpatient treatment services into existing City clinics.
We are sad that he cannot be here to see his hard work come to fruition.”
“I believe, however, it is a fitting tribute to his memory that this clinic has created the opportunity for many people who are suffering as a result of drug and alcohol problems to change their lives, their families’ lives and this community for the better.”
The City of Cape Town has also launched a new toll-free helpline for people affected by alcohol and drugs.
The 0800 Help 4 U or 0 800 4357 4 8 toll-free number is staffed 24 hours a day by eight professional call operators.