Answer to a question from a reader

What should I do if my child is taking drugs and getting mixed up with drug dealers?

The short answer

There are different steps you can take depending on the drug(s) she uses.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I just found out that my daughter is taking drugs and getting associating with drug dealers. She is a very bright kid. I'm in Cape Town but she lives with her father in Johannesburg. What can I do?

The long answer

It is always an awful shock to discover something like this about your children. But you are not alone with this problem – many parents find themselves in this situation.

Perhaps the first thing to do is to contact people who are knowledgeable about this problem and who can give detailed answers to your questions. In Cape Town, you can phone the 24/7 toll-free alcohol and drug helpline on 0800 4357 4 8 (0800 HELP 4 U) to get up-to-date information. The staff would be able to refer you to counselling services or answer any other questions you might have.

As your daughter is living in Johannesburg, perhaps you or her father could contact the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA).  

This is what their website says: 

“SANCA is a non-governmental organisation, the major objectives of which are the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. These objectives are achieved through the provision of highly effective primary and secondary prevention services, as well as comprehensive treatment programmes for chemically dependent people and their families."

Two of their important aims are:

  • Prevent and reduce chemical substance dependence;

  • Provide treatment for dependents and their families.

Tel: 0800 220 250

Tel in Johnnesburg: (011) 892 3829 / (011) 892 3475



SANCA has an in-patient clinic in Johannesburg: Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre

Address: 2 Whitney Rd, Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst 2192

Tel: 011 430 0320

071 690 4929


In Cape Town, a person of 18 years or older can go directly to one of the City of Cape Town's clinics which offer matrix-certified drug and alcohol support programmes, or a community-based treatment service, such as SANCA. A social development office or social worker may conduct a screening (alcohol and drugs test) and an assessment, and offer support and counselling before referring a person to the right support group or treatment centre.

But for heroin addiction, a person might be referred to a detox facility as an in-patient before being able to attend the outpatient support outlined above. In-patient means that the person stays at the clinic during treatment, which can be short-term (two to eight weeks) or long-term (more than 12 weeks).

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Sept. 12, 2022, 6:56 p.m.

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