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Youth Development Foundation (YDF): Drug Abuse In-patient Treatment

11/18/2014 Youth Development Foundation (YDF): Drug Abuse In-patient Treatment

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Association, illegal drug consumption in South Africa is double the world average. This has led to an increase in crime rates especially among poor or unemployed South Africans. Figures published by the South African Police Service (SAPS) show 60% of all crimes are related to drug abuse. To make matters worse, the Central Drug Authority’s (CDA) Dr. David Bayever estimates that up to 15% of South Africans abuse drugs.

The study was a collaborative effort between the following universities: Free State University, University of Natal, University of the North, and the Institute for Special Populations Research. They found that South Africa has the dubious reputation of having the largest illegal drug market in sub-Saharan Africa.

Contributing factors include: widespread and severe poverty, rapid modernisation and the decline of traditional and social relationships, as well as porous borders. Expanding trade with other parts of the world like Asia, Europe, and the Americas have also made South Africa attractive to drug traffickers.

According to the Central Drug Authority (CDA), the substance abuse rate in South Africa among teenagers is spiralling out of control. In fact, one in two school children have already experimented with drugs. According to the CDA in most instances, children start dabbling in drugs at age twelve.

A study published in the Lancet Medical Journal found that more than 60 % of teenagers aged 18 years regularly drink alcohol. This is worrying considering 30% of teenagers drink alcohol when they should be in school. The problem with drinking alcohol during one’s teenage years increases the likelihood of developing dependency on alcohol in later life.

Cannabis use is also on the increase and abuse among teenagers’ ranges between 2 to 9 %. Additionally, figures from the YRBS show that the number of teenagers who abuse prescription drugs stands is at 16%, while11.1% abuse inhalants.

There is no doubt substance abuse in South Africa is becoming a serious problem. Some of the widely available and abused drugs include heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, and cocaine. Another increasingly popular drug is “Nyaope” — a mixture of marijuana and heroin.

Our First Hand Experience:

The widely asked question is “Why do teenagers take drugs?” The YDF have managed to dig deeper and find reasons behind this widespread scourge. During our assessments, treatment and therapeutic discussions 100% responses from our patients were as follows:

  • Drugs make you feel on top of the world.
  • You feel grown up and feel that you’re in with the crowd and not alone.
  • You feel cool and special.
  • Even if you are underperforming, drugs give you a sense of confidence.
  • It’s great to feel like a rebel.

In short, drugs do different things for different people. But seen from a teenager's perspective, drugs can appear to have more advantages than disadvantages.

Our short intense experience as YDF is that despite what most people think, most children don't start off taking drugs, because they want to get high. They are motivated by a variety of psychological factors rather than physical ones. They want to have fun, have friends and be known as being risk takers. The danger is part of the appeal.

We have discovered that behind any negative behaviour, is a cry for help, whether psychological, emotional or social.

The professionals who work directly with the patients in YDF In-patient Treatment Unit have learned that among the many reasons young people take drugs are:

  • Stress relief
  • To forget or escape problems
  • Escaping difficult decisions
  • A feeling of being special (the need emanates from family neglect or repeated life failures)
  • Being part of a significant group of people

Our Further Findings.

Teenagers seem to be more at risk than others. The teenage years is a time of great changes, of agony mixed with ecstasy, a time of feeling awkward and insecure one moment and fabulous the next.

Adolescence is a tricky and intense stop over between childhood and adulthood in which a new identity has to be established, major decisions have to be made and great responsibilities have to be taken on.

This is also a time when friends start replacing family members as their primary social support system and develop greater independence. For many teens, acceptance in this group is very important and if taking drugs will make this acceptance happen, then so be it.

Another sad truth is horror stories about addicts dying in gutters tend to have little impact on teens and their drug habits. Even scare tactics don't work on teens.

The message promoted is often that drugs kill. While they undoubtedly can, , most adolescents know many casual drug users whose drugs use des not seem to impact on them seriously. This makes them discard the warning entirely.

In our intervention, we emphasise that there are undoubtedly consequences of taking drugs, such as underperformance or financial problems or stunted emotional development, broken relationships with important people like your family and even legal consequences.

The Background of the Unit:

The YDF In-patient treatment unit was established in August 2013 after BOSASA were approached by the former Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane to help combat the rising problem of drug abuse among the youth in Gauteng.

Our reputable record of efficient services in working with youth, we became the first and the most recognised organisation that could implement a solutions to this quandary and indeed we rose up to the challenge.

Admission Process:

Our unit is sited in Mogale Youth Centre however it operates independently. It is run more as a Medical Clinic and all our patients are from all over Gauteng Province. The maximum number of patients that we can take is 30. For now we only admit male patients. They come on voluntary and involuntary basis and must have history of drug abuse.

We do not do detoxification, so when they join the programme they need to have gone for medical detoxification first. We however have a medical doctor and a professional nurse who attends to the medical needs of the patients

The Programme:

There is a short and long term programme. The Short Term programme is between 6-12 weeks long and Long Term Treatment programme is 12-24 weeks. Patients are admitted for short or long term treatment dependant on which drugs they were using, how long they were using them and how much they were using.

Patients are put on an intensive Drug In-Patient Treatment Programme called Matrix. This Model is a multi-element package of therapeutic strategies that complement each other and are combined to produce an integrated in-patient treatment experience. It is a set of evidence-based practices delivered in a clinically coordinated manner as a programme.

The programme is run by an experienced Social Worker and complemented by other therapeutic Interventions done by an Occupational Therapist, Psychologist, a Nurse, Child and Youth Care Worker and Creative Therapy Facilitator. The daily programme is structured, closely monitored and adhered to daily including evenings and weekends.

The programme is tailor-made in such a way that in that it caters to patients holistically, from nutritional needs to psychological, emotional and spiritual needs. Families and significant others become the key role players throughout the treatment since our principal objective is to reintegrate them back to their communities.


Even though the official inception of the programme was in August 2013, there had to be a lot of work that needed to be put in. From the physical structure to other soft operational requirements

The unit therefore started admitting patients on the 24 April 2014. We have only been fully operating for the past 3months. There are about 16 patients that have gone through the programme, and two who have successfully completed the programme and have been reunified with their families

For any further inquests kindly contact me on:

Nosiphiwo Mboba, Project Coordinator
011 -662 6894

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For further information please call the BOSASA Youth Development Centre Head Office on
+27 (0)11 662 6000 or send us an
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