By Donna Johnson, CAS, ICADC, ICCJP, ICCDP, LADC
During a month-long training and consulting project in South Africa, I witnessed first-hand the overwhelming addiction treatment needs of that country. Rampant addiction in South Africa affects many other aspects of its citizens’ lives, including HIV, domestic violence and abuse, with a strong impact on the criminal justice system. South Africa’s current treatment structure is not meeting the vast needs of the population.
Fortunately government officials and treatment professionals are recognizing that fact, and invited Johnson to identify and establish specific areas of reform. As a result, a comprehensive strategic plan was developed to cost-effectively expand or redesign current treatment programs. Some treatment programs are operated illegally, with untrained staff using outdated models and charging exorbitant admission fees. I believe that new strategies are needed, including a more comprehensive, cost-effective approach.
These new strategies include adding trained addiction professionals to other programs and agencies and integrating addiction treatment into primary health care and other agencies such as private physician offices, primary care clinics, public health clinics, schools, hospitals and court service offices. As a result of adding these addiction professionals to non-traditional treatment sites these agencies can share facilities, staff, expenses and resources to expand services for those needing treatment.
In addition to these expanded non-traditional sites for services, I helped train and work with Comprehensive Care Centers that are placed in high-risk areas. These care centers will offer not only addiction treatment but mental health services, medical care for HIV and other physical issues, vocational training and court service staff. These Comprehensive Care Centers will be a one-stop shop for those needing assistance. Since these programs will also share facilities and resources, it can be done in a cost-effective manner and serve more individuals and families.
Treatment programs will also be established in some of the most needed schools, which will assist those children being able to access services. I also provided training for all of those professionals included in the new redesign of services including, doctors, nurses, social workers, court staff and law enforcement.
The training and consultation will be on-going. I will be returning the later part of this year to provide further services and trainings as well as on-going assistance. I am also assisting in establishing an addiction credentialing board to set international standards for addiction professionals through IC&RC. Trained and credentialed staff will also add to the success and expansion of these new programs.