Grinning from ear to ear and eager to share her story at the unveiling of the new Joubert Park community-based substance abuse treatment centre in Hillbrow, Joburg, yesterday, Priscilla Mathews, a recovered drug addict, said the clinic would be the saving grace to many people in the community currently in the same position in which she was years ago.
Mathews explained that the unfortunate consequence of growing up in an orphanage, as she did, was that after she turned 18, she was forced to fend for herself.
Her battle to cope with emotional and psychological issues led her down the path toward drugs. She said she started smoking marijuana with a few friends but after being sexually abused, she became dependent on stronger substances like ecstasy.
Mathews said she only began to acknowledge she was addicted to drugs when she stumbled upon the Outreach Foundation, a community centre in Hillbrow that focused on helping substance abusers work towards sobriety.
She announced proudly that through the centre’s intervention, she had been sober since 2015.
She said the centre had become a trusted place within the community and took in a large number of addicts daily. They independently took them through the lengthy process of applying for admission into rehabilitation centres situated in other parts of the city.
Mathews, who is now a cricket umpire after kicking her drug habit, believes the clinic would help relieve the pressure on the centre in helping addicts get help.
Outreach Foundation’s Johann Robyn agreed.
“I am very excited about this clinic. I’m hoping it will take the load off our shoulders and help us with the intake. It’s an opportunity to share the responsibility with the government,” she said.
“It also broadens our challenge because now we need to get the community more involved. It’s important that the community becomes more involved and owns the process of helping the fight against substance abuse.”
In attendance at the opening of the clinic was Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and MEC for health and social development Mpho Phalatse, who announced that the facility would be the third they’d opened this year in their commitment to dealing with drug abuse in the city.
Phalatse recounted the promise Mashaba had made to the city in September last year, regarding the rollout of five treatment centres in drug hotspots by the end of the 2017-2018 financial year.