Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Johannesburg

In Johannesburg, high-quality alcohol and drug treatment follows a comprehensive process with specific stages, catering to individuals with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD). This approach is grounded in the 12 core functions of a counsellor, as outlined by Stanley Kulewicz, whom I had the privilege of presenting with at Nottingham Priory in England back in 2003.

Each stage of treatment is vital in supporting an individual’s path to recovery. It’s essential to understand that addiction is a chronic condition requiring continuous care. Experiencing a relapse doesn’t signify failure; rather, it suggests a need for adjustments in the treatment approach. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction is treatable. Ongoing research has led to effective methods that enable individuals to stop using substances and return to productive lives, a state often referred to as being in recovery.

However like other chronic diseases such as heart disease or asthma, alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg isn’t a cure. But addiction can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behaviour and regain control of their lives.

Relapse or a return to drug use after an attempt to stop, can be part of the process due to the chronic nature of addiction. However newer treatments are designed to help with relapse prevention. Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses. If people stop following their medical treatment plan, they are likely to relapse.

Therefore, substance use disorders should be treated like any other chronic illness. Relapse serves as a sign for resumed, modified or new treatment. Alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg, as with all chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviours and relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed. When a person recovering from an addiction relapses, it indicates that the person needs to speak with their doctor to resume treatment, modify it or try another treatment.

While relapse can be a normal part of recovery:

– for some drugs, it can be very dangerous—even deadly. If a person uses as much of the drug as they did before quitting, they can easily overdose because their bodies are no longer adapted to their previous level of drug exposure. An overdose happens when the person uses enough of a drug to produce uncomfortable feelings, life-threatening symptoms or death.

Research shows that with alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg, particularly with addictions to opioids (prescription pain relievers or drugs like heroin or fentanyl), medication should be the first line of treatment, usually combined with some form of behavioural therapy or counselling.

Addiction is defined:

as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences. It is considered a brain disorder, because it involves functional changes to brain circuits involved in reward, stress and self-control.

The chronic nature of addiction means that for some people relapse or a return to drug use after an attempt to stop, can be part of the process. However, newer alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg is designed to help with relapse prevention. Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses. If people stop following their medical treatment plan, they are likely to relapse.

The first step in the treatment process is pre-admission a brief assessment over the phone or in person. It’sF used to determine the patients’ appropriateness and eligibility for a specific alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg.

Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Johannesburg – Screening:

Appropriateness: Is the patient psychotic? At risk of harm to themselves or others? Capable of partaking fully in the programme?

Eligibility: Is the patient on a medical aid that will pay for alcohol and drug treatment? Can they afford the co-pay of what the medical aid will not cover? Do they need long-term care and can they afford to pay for it privately?

Screening begins to compile alcohol/substance use history and highlight any possible co-occurring mental health disorders. This helps determine the appropriate level of care for the individual and forms the beginning of their treatment plan.

The intake process involves the individual actually entering the treatment facility and completing administrative processes. Nursing, admin and support staff ensure that the patient is not bringing any forbidden items (drugs, alcohol, weapons) into the facility.

During orientation, individuals are introduced to the substance abuse treatment facility, its rules and regulations and what to expect during their stay. This ensures that individuals understand their responsibilities and rights while undergoing rehab at the alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg.

The assessment phase involves medical and clinical staff questioning the individual to determine their treatment plan. This includes assessing what substances the individual is addicted to, how long they’ve been addicted and whether they suffer from any known mental health disorders.

Treatment planning creates an individualised alcohol and drug treatment strategy based on each person’s particular requirements. The therapies and interventions that will be used throughout treatment are described in this plan.

Alcohol and drug treatment in Johannesburg:

In Johannesburg, alcohol and drug treatment encompasses a comprehensive approach, including family, group and individual counselling. Patients are supported by a diverse team of professionals, such as social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, general practitioners and psychiatrists. The therapy focuses on helping clients understand their addiction, its underlying causes and equips them with coping mechanisms that aid in recovery rather than feeding their addiction.

Coordinating care for each individual involves case management, which can include planning aftercare services, managing medication schedules and consulting with other healthcare professionals. Crisis intervention is a critical component, addressing immediate dangers or mental health crises like severe withdrawal symptoms or suicidal thoughts. Educating clients about addiction, recovery processes and relapse prevention is another key aspect, aiming to empower them with knowledge to make informed decisions about their recovery process.

Referrals are made to additional services or resources that support recovery like mental health services, social services and job training programs. Aftercare is an ongoing support system post-treatment, including follow-up appointments and counselling sessions. Outpatient rehab is also an option, allowing individuals to live at home while attending counselling sessions and support groups, maintaining their daily routines while receiving treatment.


(1) Treatment and Recovery | National Institute on Drug Abuse.

(2) Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.

(3) The Twelve Core Functions of a Counsellor – Stanley F. Kulewicz – Google Books

Are You a Problem Drinker?

At the end of this article, you’ll find twenty questions designed to help you reflect on whether you might be struggling with alcoholism. It’s a personal decision to identify as an alcoholic or an addict but we’re here to help you make that choice with informed, confidential and free advice.

Understanding who a problem drinker is can be nuanced. Not everyone who drinks heavily needs residential treatment. A problem drinker is generally someone who consumes more alcohol than their body can handle, leading to minor health issues or work problems but they might not recognise their drinking as an issue. Often, problem drinkers justify their behaviour with life’s challenges like relationship troubles. Early intervention, such as a detox program followed by an alcohol treatment program, can prevent the progression to alcoholism.

There are two main patterns of alcohol consumption: steady, low-level drinking and binge drinking. The steady drinker might consume small amounts throughout the day to function, while the binge drinker may drink excessively on certain occasions, far beyond social norms. Both patterns are harmful and can lead to serious health issues, including risks to the nervous system and brain and potentially develop into alcoholism.

Early treatment of alcoholism is usually more successful before drinking behaviors become deeply ingrained. The first step often involves medically supervised detoxification at a detox clinic, many of which in South Africa offer excellent nursing care and quality accommodation at competitive prices. Post-detox, the individual is typically referred to a rehab center for a comprehensive treatment program. You can learn more about the various treatment programs available in South Africa.

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