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Cape Town alcohol, drug helpline shows success

by BuaNews Online
on 06 Jul 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

Cape Town's Alcohol and Drug Helpline seems to be yielding positive results, as it received several hundred calls from the public requesting more information on alcohol and drug abuse, over the last month.

The helpline, which was launched by Cape Town Deputy Executive Mayor Counsillor Grant Haskin last month, acts as a referral service and operators do not provide counseling of any kind.

"The 24/7 toll free helpline forms part of the three-year operational plan for the City of Cape Town and is a pinnacle achievement for the municipality," said Mr Haskin.

Eight trained staff, working two per shift, manages the helpline in English, isiXhosa and Afrikaans.

According to operation manager, Jaco Groenewald, the majority of calls received, relate to the use of methamphetamines (commonly known as 'tik') followed by alcohol, then dagga and heroin.

"At present the toll free option is only for calls received from landlines, this possibly accounts for the majority of calls coming through during normal business hours," said Mr Groenewald.

Last week saw the launch of the City's first Outpatient Treatment Centre based at the Tafelsig Clinic in Mitchells Plain, where families or individuals can receive treatment, screening, counseling and support for drug and alcohol problems.

"After the launch of this Centre, the city's helpline experienced a noticeable increase in the volume of calls," said Sonia Galant, Special Projects Manager for the Executive Deputy Mayor.

She attributes this to the large quantities of promotional material handed out to community members who attended the opening.

"Helpline operators are also receiving calls from as far afield as George. This is further confirmation of the dire need for accessible and qualified treatment - not just within the city.
"I appeal to Provincial Government and other municipalities to follow Cape Town's lead," said Mr Haskin.

In the next few weeks, the city will roll out further aspects of its awareness campaign, including a poster campaign whereby laminated posters, in all three languages, will be placed at council facilities, offices and buildings.

Vehicle license discs in that regard will also be made available at all traffic and vehicle licensing and testing centres in the near future.

All promotional materials used in the awareness campaign clearly state the 24/7 toll free number, 0800 43 57 48 or 0800 HELP 4 U.

The city's second Outpatient Treatment Centre based at the Table View Clinic will be launched later this year by Cllr Haskin. - BuaNews

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