A R34-million drug rehabilitation centre currently under construction in Randburg will provide holistic, comprehensive residential treatment for young addicts, helping the City tackle the scourge of substance abuse among Joburg’s youth.

Completed phase one buildings include separate dormitories for boys and girlsCompleted phase one buildings include separate dormitories for boys and girls. (Photo: www.lemonpebble.co.za – CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)The Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA) is overseeing the two-phase project, which entails the incorporation of a small existing centre in Golden Harvest Park into a completely redesigned, multi-functional structure four times the size of the original.

The existing centre currently houses 12 boys between the ages of 9 and 18. According to JDA development manager Jocelyn Davids, the new centre will house up to 46 youngsters under the age of 16 at any one time, with separate dormitories and ablution facilities to cater for girls as well as boys.

Davids said that these two buildings, which also include a prayer room and therapy rooms, fell under the first phase of construction, which started in January and was completed in June at a cost of approximately R13.3-million.

The R21-million second phase, currently under way, will include construction of a medical wing, detox facility, industrial kitchen with multi-functional dining halls, and a laundry.

The existing building will be converted into an admin block with a director’s office and rooms for social workers, and new paving and landscaping, along with a wall partly encircling the centre, will pull the complex into an integrated whole. An outdoor gym will provide a space for exercise and play therapy.

New arrivals will spend an initial period in detox before being integrated into the dormitories and group activitiesNew arrivals will spend an initial period in detox before being integrated into the dormitories and group activities. (Photo: www.lemonpebble.co.za – CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER VERSION)According to Davids, the centre will help youngsters to appreciate the seriousness of substance abuse, while providing them with the full range of treatment needed to escape their addictions and start their lives afresh.

Althea Peacock of Lemon Pebble Architects, the company responsible for designing the new centre and overseeing construction on behalf of the JDA, explained that each young addict’s journey through rehabilitation – a process lasting roughly two months – would be carefully managed.

New arrivals will spend an initial couple of weeks in the detox unit before being integrated into the dormitories and various group activities, with movement between the different sections of the centre being carefully monitored.

Indoor as well as outdoor spaces, the latter including braai areas, will be provided for family visits and family therapy sessions aimed at preparing for each youngster’s reintegration into his or her community.

Phase 2 construction is expected to be complete in June 2016, after which the new drug rehabilitation centre will handed over to the City’s Social Development Department, which will run the facility.

While there is a lack of reliable data on the nature and extent of substance abuse among young South Africans, the 2008 South African Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, conducted by the Medical Research Council among learners in Grades 8 to 11 countrywide, found that:

13% of respondents admitted having at some time used cannabis;
7% admitted having used mandrax;
7% admitted having used cocaine;
6% admitted having used heroin;
7% admitted having used crystal methamphetamine (tik);
12% admitted having used inhalants/solvents; and
12% admitted having used over-the-counter/prescription medication.