People who use drugs

We’re here to help LGBTIQ people reduce the harms associated with alcohol and drug use, and provide appropriate and non-judgemental support and referrals where needed. While in-patient rehabilitation can be difficult to access in South Africa and prohibitive due to its cost, there are a number of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other support groups which might be useful.  If you inject, Triangle Project operates a needle and syringe program where you can get new gear and safely dispose of used needles and syringes.

Is my alcohol or drug use problematic?

Are you concerned that your alcohol or drug use has gotten out of control? Below are some questions that can help you think about your alcohol or drug use. While it can be difficult to admit how much you have drunk or used, it is best to be honest with yourself, especially if you need help or want to change.

  • Have you ever felt like you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  • Is your drinking or drug use affecting your relationships with family, friends or partners?
  • Is your drinking or drug use affecting your work life, or day-to-day life? Are you still drunk, high or coming down at times when you’re expected to be sober?
  • Have you gotten into financial difficulties due to your alcohol or drugs use?
  • Are you able to enjoy yourself in social situations without drinking or using?
  • Are there things you used to be passionate about before you started drinking or using more often?  Is drinking or using and recovering taking up time you used to spend on other things that you enjoy doing?
  • Do you ever use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate (drinking or using to relieve stress or get rid of negative feelings)?
  • Have you ever put yourself at risk while drinking or using drugs?

Want to reduce your alcohol or drug use?

It doesn’t matter how much or how often you drink or use drugs, if you want to change, control, reduce or stop completely, there are ways to help you do that. Different strategies will work better for different people, and it might take some time to find what works best for you.

Calling a helpline can be a good place to start. Listed below are a range of helplines in South Africa, specialising in different services. Seeking out supportive family and friends can also be an important way to stop or reduce.  

Try keeping a journal or writing things down to keep track of your drinking or drug use. The more you know about your own use, the easier it will be to find strategies to reduce or stop.

  • How much do you drink or use? How often?
  • In what situations do you drink or use? (at parties? at home? with friends? alone?)
  • How do you feel before, during and after you drink or use drugs?
  • What gives you the feeling of wanting to drink or to use?

Changing your circle of friends might be a necessary step. If your whole social life, and your friends in it, revolves around drinking or drug use, you might need to step away from that (at least for a while) in order to reduce your own use. This may be difficult, but you need to put your own health and wellbeing first.

Attending peer support or group programmes such as Alcoholics AnonymousNarcotics Anonymous or other 12-step programme might work for you.  Check out their websites for meeting locations and times.

In-patient treatment facilities might be useful, but are not easily accessible due to lengthy waiting lists, and private rehabilitation centres are far out of reach for most people due to exorbitant fees charged. 

Alcohol, drug and mental health helpline numbers in South Africa

Triangle Project helpline:
021 712 6699 (1.00pm – 9.00pm daily)

Suicide crisis line:
0800 567 567 or sms 31393

Depression and Mental Health Helpline:
call 0800 567 567 daily between 8am and 8pm for counselling and referral if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety or mental health issues

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG):
011 262 6396

Mental health line:
011 783 1474

Substance Abuse Helpline:
0800 121314 can give you help and information about alcohol and drug abuse. SMS line: 32312

The National Tobacco Quit Line:
011 720 3145 can give you information on tobacco and how to stop smoking.

Alcoholics Anonymous SA National Helpline:
0861 435 722

Al-Anon (for family and friends of alcoholics):
0861 252 666

Alateen (group for young people with alcohol problems):
0861 252 666 or 021 595 4508

Narcotics Anonymous:
083 900 6962

Narconon South Africa:
011 622 3998

LifeLine Western Cape (Cape Town):
021 461 1113

How to manage triggers?

A trigger is a thing, emotion or event that makes you want to drink or use. It might be something good, that makes you want to celebrate with alcohol or drugs, or something bad that makes you want to drink or use to de-stress or get rid of negative emotions. Anything might be a trigger, and it will be different for everyone.  

Try making a list of all the things, emotions, places and people that make you want to drink or use, and then think of ways to manage each of these triggers. This might involve thinking of alternatives that you enjoy doing, avoiding places or settings where you know you will drink or use too much, or finding different ways to manage what you’re feeling. You can also set yourself limits, and spend time with friends who will encourage you to stick to those limits.

Needle and Syringe Programme (NSP)

Triangle Projects operates a needle and syringe programme (NSP) for people who inject drugs (PWID). You can pick up new injecting equipment and safely dispose of used gear from Triangle Project’s on-site clinic, or from our mobile services. It is important to use new gear every time (if possible) and to NEVER SHARE injecting equipment with anyone. Sharing equipment is one of the easiest ways to transmit HIV and other blood borne viruses such as hepatitis C.