Help at hand for substance abuse

As National Substance Abuse Awareness Day was marked on Tuesday 26 June, those struggling with drug abuse need not feel alone.

This is the message of local organisations, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).

Over 2000 Capetonians are currently members of NA, and attend over 76 meetings a week.

These meetings are open to “anybody with a desire to stop using (drugs)”, explains NA’s Jeremy Whitaker­.

NA offers hope and help to drug addicts. At meetings, addicts meet other people who have had similar experiences and problems who are now staying off drugs and learning a better way to live. There is no fee for attendance at NA meetings.

NA is for any drug addict, regardless of which drug or combination of drugs that person used. NA literature emphasizes that when addicts substitute one drug for another, it just releases their addiction all over again. By focusing on recovery from the common problem of drug addiction, NA provides an environment where addicts who may not have used the same drugs identify with and help each other.

Meetings are often held in churches, treatment centres, or other facilities, because these places tend to be affordable, available, or convenient. NA is entirely self-supporting and does not accept financial contributions from non-members. All donations are entirely voluntary and given by members that are able to contribute­.

NA is a spiritual, not religious programme and it does not discriminate against, nor advocate for, any specific belief system.

“Those attending meetings can expect to feel welcome, to hear their story through others sharing, to not be judged, to get hope, to find out they are not alone and don’t have to do this by themselves,” says Whitaker.

Those struggling with substance abuse can also access the help 24 hours a day, through the national Department of Social Development’s Substance Abuse Helpline, run in partnership with Sadag.

Contact NA on or call 083 900 6962.

Call Substance Abuse Helpline on 0800 12 13 14 or SMS 32312