Using tech to fight addiction

Director of Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre, Ashley Potts talking at the AGM.

To extend its reach across the city, the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre (CTDCC) plans to make better use of social media and community-based organisations, and launch more support groups.

This was revealed at the centre’s AGM held in Observatory on Thursday September 27.

CTDCC director Ashley Potts said they aimed to provide training for 5 000 community members.

According to Mr Potts, these workshops will be a set of lectures or modules, carefully designed to help anyone through a process of determining the proper way to understand the illness of addiction and the impact of drugs to the brain.

Participants, he said, would be guided through the steps needed to redress the current substance abuse challenges within their own space as well as their communities.

To take advantage of the reach and influence of technology, the CTDCC last year launched its social media counselling programme which enables staff to communicate with clients via social media and digital communication platforms like WhatsApp and Skype.

The CTDCC also has a mobile app that drug users and their family can use to seek help. The app, available of the Google Play Store, gives information like the nearest treatment centres, expert articles on substance abuse, inspirational stories on how people overcame drug abuse, and allows users to share their story.

Moegamat Sedick, a social worker at the CTDCC who has worked with adolescents and adult drug users, says family support is really important for the drug users who are undergoing counselling. “I think it’s good when they want to change, or even shift their motivation (and I watch) them grow through the process,” said Mr Sedick.

Michelle Prevost, an intern counsellor, has multiple roles at the CTDCC.

“I am one of the councillors delivering the six-week outpatient programme,” she said.

“We offer lectures on issues relating to addiction, we do one-on-one counselling with the client, we do an adolescent programme, adults programme, we counsel families and run family workshops,” she said.

Mr Potts added: “For every one user, 17 others are affected. This is the real challenge, our focus needs to shift to the effect if we are going to see meaningful change within our country.”

But, being a non-profit organisation, the centre can only continue its good work if it has some way to secure funds to run the operation. Among the projects they run to ensure their sustainability is a development and rental plan through which they lease parts of their building to private medical practitioners for use after hours. This is in addition to their ongoing efforts to secure donor funds.

If you would like more information about the CTDCC centre, you can visit their website at http://www.drugcentre.org.za/ or email info@drugcentre.org.za .