City reaches thousands through its substance abuse interventions

26 Jun 2022 in Where We Govern

The City’s Alcohol and Other Drug Strategy is aligned to the National Drug Master Plan and the Provincial Blueprint, and a number of City departments are involved in its implementation through the Cape Town Alcohol and Drug Action Committee (CTADAC).

The strategy focuses on four key themes, namely prevention, intervention, suppression and coordination.

‘A lot of very hard work has gone into breathing life into this strategy, and making a tangible difference in communities that are vulnerable to substance abuse and the related socio-economic impacts. The action committee has compiled a report, outlining the work done over a 12-month period, and it is truly remarkable what they’ve been able to achieve, despite many challenges – not least of which was the Covid-19 regulations, which hampered the ability to do community programmes and outreach work.

‘We often hear about drug abuse in the context of enforcement, and while this is a critical aspect, there are numerous other interventions, particularly around prevention, led by our Social Development and Early Childhood Development Department, as well as our substance abuse treatment programme which uses the Matrix® model of treatment, spearheaded by City Health. Then we also have our Library Service and Recreation and Parks Department, assisting with after school programmes to ensure that children and young people are kept engaged and protected from undue influence,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia Van der Ross.

Between March 2021 and March 2022, transversal interventions had the following outcomes:

231 families participated in the Strengthening Families programme – an evidence based prevention programme, aimed at improving family relationships. The City has trained facilitators who offer the eight-week, 10 session programme across the metropole

779 learners participated in the Essentially Me programme, devised by the Substance Abuse Unit within Social Development and Early Childhood Development. This programme promotes the enhancement of protective factors within learners and is aligned to prevention principles as outlined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). As a response to Covid-19, the Substance Abuse unit converted the programme into an activity book, which was disseminated within communities.

  • 753 learners participated in the Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) Simulator programme
  • 3 000+ learners participated in After School programmes at 29 sites, involving various departments. This programme provides learners with a safe space after school, with programmes covering themes including sport and recreation, arts and culture, academic, and life skills
  • A monitoring project by the City’s Library and Information Service found that 19 181 substance abuse related books were borrowed from the libraries


The City’s eight substance abuse treatment sites, utilising the Matrix® treatment model, have treated 1 400 clients in this financial year, with a clean drug test rate of 81%, against a target of 75%.

The top three substances that persons seek treatment for are methamphetamine (Tik), dagga and alcohol.

On Friday, 24 June 2022, 23 clients from the Tafelsig and Parkwood Matrix® sites received certificates for completing the full 16-week programme, while 42 others received commendations for completing their first month in the programme.

‘Our substance abuse treatment sites too are evolving, and including more elements designed to give the client a more holistic outcome. In the past year, we have used EPWP workers to conduct home visits in Manenberg to help bring defaulters back into the programme, our Eersteriver site moved into a bigger premises; clients are participating in visual and performing arts, as well as digital literacy programmes, courtesy of partnerships with other City departments, and then we have our NGO partners, who offer job skills training and employment opportunities to street people who have completed the substance abuse programme.

‘There are numerous success stories of families reunified, Matrix® clients moving off the streets, finding work, resuming their studies and getting a new lease on life. Addiction is a very difficult battle, made all the more challenging by socio-economic circumstances that impact on clients’ ability to remain in the programme. We commend those who’ve made it, and to those who fell along the way, we say that our door remains open and that hope and help is available,’ added Councillor Van der Ross.