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Learning, the best rehabilitation treatment

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Drug addicts are underestimating the impact their addiction has on their loved ones. So says psychologist and clinical manager Cathy Karassellos from the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre, on International Drug Awareness and Drug Trafficking Day on Friday. The centre promotes learning through drug awareness in the community as the best form of treatment for drug addiction as drugs erodes at families and communities.

“Often families think that the best way to deal with it is to lock the person away but they are not learning anything. The best way is for them to learn through applied treatment that they can apply in their everyday life,” says Karassellos.

The Centre has two branches in Observatory and Mitchell’s Plain, and the third will be opening in Atlantis soon. To mark the day, they hosted a community awareness day at the Mitchell’s Plain branch encouraging people to have fun without being under the influence of drugs.

“This is a day of having fun rather than having drugs. It is a way to create awareness amongst the young people as well. We just want people to know that they can have fun in other ways and better ways to have fun without drugs,” says Karassellos.

The facility offers group and individual counselling. Someone seeking assistance for a drug addiction would have to visit one of the counselling centres with a family member where they will get a medical assessment.

“Anyone can have a drug addiction. Addiction is like a chronic illness which has nothing to do with what background you are from. We don’t target any specific community because addiction can affect anyone,”

The addict attends a 6 week programme as out-patients where they come for counselling sessions four times a week. The programme is not only directed towards the addict but their families too and how families can assist in the recovery of that person.

Families are encouraged to come to first session to share their grief and give some background. During the six-week programme a half day workshop is offered to the patient’s family members on drug awareness. They attend family meetings throughout the programme.

“The families are most affected. They often feel overwhelmed and the workshops teach the families after 6 weeks how to support the patient with the addiction,” says Karassellos.

The programme is directed towards the youth those at school, college or just started working. It involves acupuncturing, armour therapy and educational lectures for drug awareness and how to deal with it in terms of long term recovery.

The centre attempts to tackle the issue on a macro-level to prohibit widespread effects mainly crime.

“People feel overwhelmed and desperate causing them to resort to theft or other crimes causing harm to members of the community,” says Karassellos.

For more information, contact their Mitchell’s Plain on 021 397 0103 or their Observatory offices on 021 447 8026. VOC

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