Drug intervention that works and makes you feel human again

COSUP’s intervention and assessment process is based on extensive research conducted both locally and internationally, combined with clinical expertise from the team of UP experts. Its approach is based on a foundation of non-judgemental engagement and...

COSUP’s intervention and assessment process is based on extensive research conducted both locally and internationally, combined with clinical expertise from the team of UP experts. Its approach is based on a foundation of non-judgemental engagement and the fundamentals of community orientated primary care. COSUP believes that developing therapeutic bonds is primary to assisting people who use drugs in making conscious decisions about their drug use. These bonds further enable people to establish and aspire towards their life goals.

Intervention is practical and measurable. The process is individualised, mindful that each person that enters the programme has a different story. COSUP ensures that a clear path is set for the patient to follow, with attainable goals that won’t overwhelm the patient. Fundamental to the intervention process is to empower and inform each person that uses harmful substances.

Assessment comprises several sessions conducted by a trained staff member of COSUP. Sister Linda Makala is integral in Mamelodi’s COSUP sites, knowing that every person’s story is unique and it is imperative that the purpose of the assessment is to better understand the type and extent of the substance use. By understanding the psycho-social issues and family dynamics (or lack thereof) that are specific to the individual, COSUP staff is able to determine an action path to take. Assessment also looks at the possibilities of illnesses that have gone undiagnosed. Dependent on the results from the assessment, COSUP staff is able to bring the individual to a point where they can identify their goals, whether it be to change their current using patterns completely, or to just use drugs in a healthier safer way. All medical assessments are conducted by qualified doctors or clinical associates. Treatments such as Opioid Substitution Therapy (OSTs) are also administered by the medical staff of the COSUP team. Makala says it is imperative not to judge these people: “Our job is to heal these people and uplift the broken.”

In addition to the medical assessments, individual counselling, group work, and skills development are just some of the other components in this successful programme. Prof Jannie Hugo stresses the crucial role of the social worker in an individual’s journey, “Medical personnel can give someone the medicines they need for their drug addiction and HIV, but the social issues need to be addressed if you really want to help the person get out of their situations.”

Based on the assessments, the type and extent of each service will be determined. Specialists involved in the necessary counselling could include a trauma specialist, a pastoral counsellor, a psychologist, a social worker or specialist lay-counsellor.

Group sessions where individuals become aware of their levels and reasons for substance use have also proven to add benefit to the individual. These sessions help people start making conscious choices around their substance use, rather than just doing something out of habit. Group sessions empower individuals to become more aware of their own health and the decisions they need to make to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Skills development groups comprise 24 sessions per individual and are designed to give the individual the resources and skills necessary to attain their goals. Other groups available also deal with identity, life skills and purpose. It helps the individual create a structure that facilitates the attainment of their goals. Important topics such as managing life and money, stress management, emotional triggers and recreational activities are addressed. Relational needs, personal strengths, mental health and responsibilities are also covered.

People like Sister Makala that work in COSUP have gained the trust of users and their families who realise the value and life changing experience COSUP can bring to their lives. COSUP helps individuals slowly move away from a harmful life by getting off of drugs, while working on a plan for their lives after drugs. The programme equips each individual with the tools needed to make peace with their past, re-build relationships that are healthy and find their purpose in life.


COSUP’s drug use intervention programme involves assessments, practical plans of action, and an individualised approach that helps users identify their goals for treatment and move towards a healthier life