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Rehab on the cards for rural addicts

File Photo.
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

LIMPOPO – The recent rise in drug abuse amongst youth in Vhembe district, and a lack of facilities to assist those who are addicted and wants to quit is the main cause behind high rates of rapes, robberies and school drop-outs.

This is according to a former drug addict, Rabelani Tshifaro (31) of Thohoyandou Block F, who has recently developed an initiative to assist drug addicts who are struggling to stop. She has started Made New, an organisation which helps addicts to stop taking drugs. He has identified peer pressure as the number one cause of young people becoming addicts.

“I started drinking alcohol at the age of 14 years. I wanted to be seen as cool by other kids. Then I then started smoking weed at the age of 20  and by the age of 26 I was addicted to a drug called CAT. The addiction damaged my health, my relationships and I ended up losing my job,” Tshifaro said.

The mother of two said she decided to quit and seek help in 2015 after realising that her health was getting worse daily. With the support of her parents, she was able to enter a rehabilitation programme in Gauteng where she stayed for six months.

“Drug abuse is also the reason why some people are mentally disturbed. If you are able to drugs and end up not negatively affected, you are very lucky,” she said.

One rehab centre

Currently Limpopo has only one government-owned rehab centre based in Seshego, outside Polokwane. But not many addicts within the province can access their services.

“The time I spent in rehab made me realise that I need to do something to help other people who are addicted especially youth who are not as fortunate as I was to have a family support and forgiving parents. And so that’s how Made New was born. There are many drug addicts in rural villages in Vhembe. They do not know where to go to seek help to stop taking drugs. Many of them are now a danger to their local communities as they steal and commit all sorts of crimes to get money to buy drugs,” said Tshifaro.

Tshifaro is working towards establishing a rehab centre in the Vhembe district with the aim of giving drug addicts second chances.

Currently Limpopo has only one government-owned rehab centre based in Seshego, outside Polokwane. But not many addicts within the province can access their services.

“I am living proof that a person can lead a normal and healthy life after being a drug addict for many years. Most young people out there who are addicted to drugs need help to turn their lives around and lead a normal life again. If we manage to help them quit, we will be able to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, rapes and crime,” she said, explaining how her idea will help everyone in the long term.

Spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Joel Seabi said: “Drug abuse is a very serious matter which we are currently facing in the province. We are doing our best to help those who are addicted and want to quit. Those who need our assistance should visit our offices in their areas”.

Made New will host its first official dialogue on March 10. Currently, Tshifaro has a group of local addicts whom she is helping to quit drugs and lead normal lives again. 

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.