Centre offers help to addicts

Addictions are often associated with the complexities of mental health.

A drop-in wellness centre for drug addicts, who use injections, was opened in Adderley Street on December 4 by the Western Cape MEC for Health, Nomafrench Mbombo.

The drop-in centre, run by non-profit organisation TB HIV Care, as part of its Step Up Project, is not new as a similar space has been operating in Woodstock for the past two years.

However, they believe the CBD branch has a greater advantage as it brings services closer to the people accessing them as many stay in the streets of Cape Town.

The centre will provide a package of wellness services for people who use drugs, including sterile injecting equipment, opioid substitution therapy, HIV testing and screening, and psychosocial services.

“We are excited about the new space. We have seen lives change as a result of the Step Up Project and we want to do everything we can to increase our reach,” says Tara Gerardy, psychosocial coordinator in the Step Up Project.

“Because we supply opioid substitution therapy, one of the only programmes to do so in South Africa, our clients can break out of the constant hustle for drugs to avoid withdrawal. When given that space, we have seen people make many other changes in their lives – from reconnecting with family members to finding employment,” says Rudolph Basson, Step Up Project Site Coordinator.

CEO of TB HIV Care, Professor Harry Hausler said clients are also provided with containers to store their used needles safely until they can return them to the centre and they undertake regular outreaches to pick up used needles that have been discarded inappropriately.

Executive director of Harm Reduction International NGO, Naomi Burke-Shyne said: “To see government represented in the room today, supporting this initiative, is inspiring.”