There’s no doubt that winning the Rugby World Cup 2019 as decisively as South Africa did against England in Japan on Saturday 2 November by 32-12 made us into World Champions.   So Congratulations to Siya Kolisi, his bokke, their mentors and the 60+ million South African supporters.  It had been a long and tough climb to the top but good guidance and coaching plus teamwork  were surely evident on the day. In the way the country was united behind them helped them to achieve their goal.

Last week I reflected on bandwagons, and sport hadn’t in fact been one of them for me.  But it is clear and was noted during the Conference in which I participated than sports, arts and education in addition to attending to health issues are stepping stones on the way to success.

The Department of Social Development Conference on Substance Abuse and Family Related Interventions was attended by some 400 delegates, some international bodies, but primarily people from government, headed by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu who presented the keynote and closing addresses.  Other government departments and agencies were prominently represented as well as Civil Society and NGOs involved in the subject. The Faith Based Organisations did receive some attention, a very small slot, but a more prominent slot was given to the Moral Regeneration Movement and its chairperson Fr Smangaliso Mkhatshwa who addressed the importance of Positive Values  which underlie all belief systems and should be at the heart of every family’s life.

The three focus areas of the conference were HARM REDUCTION, SUPPLY REDUCTION AND DEMAND REDUCTION.  Some important points raised were:

  • Substance abuse disorder (SUD) in its many facets, from alcohol to illegal and legal drugs is a growing societal problem. Alcohol is still the main substance used and abused.  Although certain restrictions have been lifted on the use of dagga/cannabis its abuse rate is also very high.
  • Addiction is today regarded as a disease of the brain. This view impacts greatly on responses.
  • Addiction affects not only an individual but a family as a whole. Testimonies shared testify to the complexity of this aspect. Interventions for families need to be strengthened.  Effective parenting is a basic need.
  • Only a very small percentage of abusers are in treatment.
  • There is a growing need to focus more on prevention, treatment and  restorative justice rather than punitive justice e.g. imprisonment for those with Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD) but not for dealers and trafficking of course.

A variety of responses were presented, ranging from treatment centres, programmes  and therapeutic responses.  A fuller list and description of some of these will be prepared.

Much information was presented on research and on international and local trafficking.  Research is necessary to avoid making assumptions that may not be correct.

The Minister in presenting and taking some comments on the Resolutions stressed that an Action Plan must be prepared and put into practice by every citizen in their families, organisations, churches and workplaces with the support of the resources that are available.

Which brings me back to my opening point.   The Conference drew to a close on Saturday morning in time for the all-important Rugby match.   We won handsomely, and no doubt celebrated handsomely but if we had lost there would also have been a communal drowning of sorrows using the same means.  We are a population of massive alcohol consumers, even if nothing else, no matter what the occasion, no matter what is said by whom, no matter what warnings are given.  Maybe a greater awareness of not being caught for drinking and driving is a step in the direction towards greater sobriety but it is not sufficient to change a mindset that only AA members or wimps celebrate championhood on the wagon.

FAMILY WEEKLY 6 November 4, 2019

PS I was watching the fans awaiting the arrival of the Bokke at ORTambo.  No alcohol in sight.  Shows it can be done.





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