Some addicts linked to untreated mental disorders
Untreated underlying mental health issues can compromise addicts’ chances of recovery, writes Tamar Kahn
Four out of 10 patients in drug rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape have mental health problems, according to the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use. Yet their underlying mental health issues are frequently neglected or undiagnosed, compromising their chances of recovery, says Lize Weich, head of addiction services at Stikland Psychiatric Hospital. In SA, the division of labour that makes mental issues the responsibility of the health department and drug and alcohol addiction that of social welfare compounds the challenge. Most other countries view addiction as a medical disorder and house its services solely within health, she says. Weich heads Cape Town’s only medical opioid detoxification unit, which provides care to patients so stigmatised that no other state hospital has been prepared to take them on. "There is a misunderstanding that if you have a drug addiction you are a violent criminal," she says. "People need to understand that it is an addict’...
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