S.A. Drug Crisis Solutions
S.A. Drug Crisis Solutions:
For more information on this publication, contact the writer:
A.A.C. Chairman, Mr. Warren Whitfield, at Tel: 079-066-3882 or email us here
Re : The Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill.
On behalf of the Addiction Action Campaign, its board of directors, and the many concerned South Africans who support our position, we wish to submit the following points for consideration by the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, on The Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill.
Introduction : The focus of the Bill
- We believe that Bill, as its name suggests, is too limited in scope andneeds to be reviewed to include addictions other than to substances.
- We believe that there are literally millions of undiagnosed addicts in South Africa who are addicted to products, services or behaviours that are not substances. These ‘non-substance’ addictions include:
- Sex addiction, love addiction, spending addiction, gambling addiction, internet gambling addiction, work addiction, sleep addiction, pornography addiction, internet addiction, internet pornography addiction and video gaming addiction.
- The Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill needs to be revised, renamed and refocused to consider the needs of South African citizens who have these addictions. It could more appropriately be renamed the ‘The Prevention of and Treatment for Addiction Bill’
- With this refocus in mind, ‘The Prevention of and Treatment for Addiction Bill’ should consider the following:
A list of questions must be compiled which asks every question which needs to be asked about the severity of the problem. For instance, on the issue of addiction as a whole in South Africa:
- How many addictions are there in South Africa?
- What are the different types of addictions?
- How many people are addicted to each type of addiction?
- How old is everyone who is addicted in each addiction?
- Where do these addicts live?
- How many are male or female?
- What is their level of education?
- What languages do they speak?
- What income group do they fall into?
- How many addicts have a dual diagnosis i.e. a psychiatric disorder as well as an addiction?
- How many addicts have multiple addictions? Etc.
- How many people die every year because of addiction?
- How much does addiction cost the country each year in healthcare and lost income?
- How many skilled workers “brains” are lost each year to addiction, either through death or to poverty?
- How many minors have an addiction?
- How many deaths are caused by addiction?
- How many lives on average are affected financially and emotionally because of each addict?
- How much fraud is committed each year by addicts?
- How many marriages are lost each year because of addiction?
- How many children are left homeless because of addiction?
- How many children are orphaned each year because of addiction?
- How many people in prisons are addicts?
- How many people in prison were incarcerated owing to a crime committed because of addiction?
- How many people develop a new addiction each year?
- How many suicides are committed each year owing to addiction?
- How many accidental overdoses are attended to each year by healthcare professionals?
- How many people have contracted HIV/AIDS because of being careless whilst under the influence of an addiction?
- How much money is generated in income by suppliers of addictive services or products?
- What percentage of the income generated by suppliers of addictive services or products is spent on addiction prevention and treatment programs?
- How much does the government earn in tax generated by the sale of addictive products or services i.e. from company tax, VAT, and customs and excise duties?
- What percentage of this tax collected by government is spent on addiction treatment and prevention programmes?
- How does the debt created by all compulsive gamblers affect the repo rate?
- How many deaths are caused by these addictions?
- How much does the average compulsive gambler lose to a casino because of his addiction?
- What is the potential total impact caused by a compulsive gambler because of this addiction?
- How many children’s educations and futures have been lost because of their parents' addiction to gambling?
- How many rapes in South Africa can be connected to a sex, love or pornography addiction? Opinions don't help, facts and figures must be established here.
- How many people are disabled or murdered because of these addictions?
Once a study has been completed which answers all of the questions on all of the addictions, only then can a Bill be compiled which will be effective and comprehensive.
Having said that the said Bill should also consider the following issues:
1) Sin Tax:
- A national addiction education program included in the school curriculum to present defined and compulsory age-appropriate addiction awareness training to all learners.
- A national addiction treatment program which provides rehabilitation programmes at low or no cost for the disadvantaged which can be understood by people who cannot read & write, which is in their own language, culture-specific and provides for people with a dual diagnosis; and/or a national addiction treatment assistance fund which assists addicts in paying for their treatment costs at appointed and approved treatment centres.
- Consistent research programmes which keep addiction statistics relevant and up-to-date.
- Assist NGOs like the Addiction Action Campaign and other addiction-specific NGOs with yearly financial budgets so that they are funded to carry out their mandates.
- Identify existing NGOs which are already meeting certain needs effectively and efficiently and replicate them.
“Underground” or “Guerilla” marketing tactics should become illegal and punishable with large fines and/or imprisonment.
3) Gambling (including horse racing):
For instance, according to National Responsible Gambling Chairman, Dr. Roger Meyer, 5% of gamblers are problem gamblers. Problem gamblers, by definition, will contribute more than the average gambler to the profits of gambling organisations ("Winners know when to stop", but compulsive gamblers will stop only when they have no money left to wager and cannot borrow more).
Therefore, if R13.52 billion in income was generated in one year by the gaming industry, the harm reduction spending should equal the amount contributed, not 5% e.g. if the 5% of all gamblers who are problem gamblers contributed to 35% of the turnover, then 35% should be spent on harm reduction and rehabilitation. It's only fair. Its immoral to accept a bet and exploit someone who cannot control themselves.
4) Pornography:The availability of pornographic material on physical media should continue to be limited to shops that specialise in these products and existing regulations should continue to be enforced. All cell phones belonging to minors should be barred from accessing pornography. This can be accomplished though linking identity numbers to SIM cards (a function of RICA).
Internet pornography companies who operate in South Africa, must confirm age before any sexually explicit material can be viewed online. International pornography companies who do not comply with this control should not be allowed to access the South African public. The current "honour system" controls are ineffective from preventing access to minors and addicts. The process for viewing pornographic material online needs to be reviewed and the legal age of being able to view pornography should also be reviewed.
The pornography industry must assist people in need of treatment for pornography addiction through sponsored treatment programmes.
- An instant record of a visit to a physician or pharmacy.
- An instant record of the prescription provided by a doctor and when the prescribed drugs were dispensed.
- All records must be available instantaneously country wide, to stop the sale of over the counter (OTC) drugs to people who are visiting multiple doctors and buying products from multiple suppliers in the same day.
8) The Addiction Treatment Profession Standards:
9) Faith based addiction treatment facilities:
Any facility that accommodates an addict in any phase of recovery, for any reason whatsoever, must employ the services of an addiction treatment professional that has completed the minimum educational requirements, as set out by the bill, for an addiction counselling professional.
12) Diversion treatment programmes:
13) Secondary and tertiary services:
14) Regulation of treatment fees:The Bill should consider the vast difference in fees which are currently being charged by professionals and non-professionals. Faith-Based organisations and services which charge professional fees should be investigated to ascertain which professional services are being rendered.
These recommendations in no way constitute the AAC’s entire position. We believe that these are the most important issues which must be considered by the committee at this time.