Programme to address substance abuse

Shaun-Andrew Nero, Kauthar Parker, ward councillor Angus McKenzie, Allison Arnold, Kristie Hermanus, Jeremy Lewis, and Rodney Sparks.

As more and more youth fall into the cycle of drugs and gangsterism, a new programme aimed at helping substance abusers hopes to alleviate the issue in Bonteheuwel.

Last year Bonteheuwel received R150 000 towards social development and this was increased to R200 000 this year which was allocated to SA Nero and Associates, a social enterprise who would see to the screening of residents for drug and alcohol abuse, said ward councillor Angus McKenzie.

He said the aim was to get as many people screened and treated before the issue worsened as the number of youth standing on corners and abusing drugs was escalating.

The organisation is mainly made up of youth and would focus on youth and their families, which Mr McKenzie believed was the ideal solution as youth responded better to youth instead of adults.

He said that more youth and even some of the elderly were falling into the slump of substance abuse. This is passed on from generation to generation which was worrisome.

Mr McKenzie said if the community worked together they could overcome what was seen as “the norm.”

“The primary focus would be to partner with our schools and religious bodies to assess the most serious cases and the implementation of the programme. We are serious about changing our children’s lives and no negotiation policy in offering our kids different opportunities will be entered to.”

He said that not only were the drug abusers affected but also their families, friends, peers, and teachers as they displayed behavioural problems and usually lashed out at the wrong people.

“This is a huge challenge in Bonteheuwel as many people are either affected by it or using it (drugs and alcohol) themselves. Drug abuse starts young and it is important to catch them at a young age and stop what appears to be the norm. It’s amazing how many oumas and oupas are also using drugs, especially tik,” he said.

There will be a series of screenings for eight weeks at Bonteheuwel civic centre, Busy Bee shops, Blue Gum Chemist, and in Kiaat Road, Bonteheuwel. The programme will see to the assessment of 100 adolescents for drug and alcohol abuse, a substance abuse programme for 30 people for eight weeks, and the facilitation of a prevention programme for 12- to 18-year-old youth, which included parents of 15 families. The screening will be free and will only take place in Bonteheuwel.

SA Nero and Associates have partnered with local organisations in the area who will refer substance abusers to the programme.

The screening includes asking questions about the drug user’s drug of choice, how often they used it and whether they had experienced financial problems because of it, amongs other questions.

Thereafter the individuals would be referred to drug rehabilitation centres or drug support groups which will be facilitated by SA Nero.

Shaun-Andrew Nero, director of the company and manager of the programme, said the programme aimed to create a brief intervention in the area.

“The screening will take place for five to 15 minutes and will benefit the existing intervention areas in Cape Town. Our team is made up of counsellors, psychologists, and psychometrics who will assess each individual,” he said.

Chairman of the Community of Bonteheuwel Association, and committee member of Barrier Breaking Men, Abie Clayton, said youth were roaming the streets with their friends instead of being in school and learning.

He said there were youth who also went to school but bunked by jumping over the fences and smoking drugs. Some did their homework as quickly as they could so that they could join up with friends and get up to mischief.

Mr Clayton said some parents were not a good example to their children as they too abused drugs and were out on the road late at night while their young kids were alone at home.

He said that no matter how much he praed and spoke to these adults it falls on deaf ears.

“At night they steal electricity cables and break into people’s homes. They are the ones stealing people’s batteries out of their cars and most of them have been in jail already and they are all around us. Tik makes them so strong and they’re so daring and will do anything,” he said.

“I don’t know what the solution is but the community needs to stand together and pray and march and do something about this because our children are digging their own graves,” he said.

For more information about the substance abuse screening programme, call Shaun-Andrew Nero on 067 611 7380.