Posts Tagged ‘addiction’

Can addiction be prevented?

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Articles

By Warren Whitfield

The short answer is yes and no. See also this article published on


Warren Whitfield

Yes because the extent of people who are in active addiction (which includes addiction to substances, behaviours and emotions) can be reduced. We call this principle Harm Reduction. Theoretically we can reduce the amount of people who enter into active addiction by providing proper education and prevention programs to children at the right age. We can never stop the supply of addictive products or services, but we can have an effect on the demand. We can also reduce the amount of people in active addiction by making treatment affordable and accessible.

What we are seeing is that prevention programs in high schools are “too little too late”. On average, between 15% and 30% of the pupils in high schools already admit to having a substance abuse problem which they believe needs treatment. This means that prevention needs to start at a much younger age. The motive of education in schools needs to change from producing people who are economically useful to people who are emotionally independent, who know what they want and display a knowledge of the life skills required to compete in the game called life.

In terms of nature or nurture, the disease or “dis-ease” of addiction is not entirely nature’s fault. It’s also nurtured by our parents, role models and environments. In other words, we can have an effect on how people see themselves and what choices they make in life if we reach them soon enough. If people believe that they lack anything, they desire what they believe will make them whole or what will improve their life. If people see themselves as whole and complete, they do not desire any substance, product or service because they understand that it cannot make them better.

However for all of this to take place, taxes which are collected from addictive products or services must be re-appropriated for addiction prevention, education and treatment. Also, corporates that profit from people who cannot control themselves must become accountable by spending the profits which are generated from addicted people on harm reduction.

And finally no addiction cannot be prevented entirely because there will always be addictive products, services and behaviours available and marginalized people who have no access to prevention, education and treatment will continue to enter addiction and to remain addicted & pass their thinking and behaviours on to their future generations. As long as people have “stinking thinking” (i.e. believe that anything will make them better, significant, acceptable, more confident or happy) addiction will continue.

No cheers for International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Articles

No cheers for

Government & Corporates wake up

On the 26th of June is International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking. This week (21-27th June) is SANCA Drug Awareness Week.

This year will see the issue of addiction in South Africa face immense challenges and a growth in numbers of citizens who are addicted to a substance or behaviour. The biggest crisis our country faces is that 99% of South African’s still have no access to addiction treatment because it is unaffordable and inaccessible to people who do not speak English.

What South Africa still is not aware of is that we are in the midst of an addiction epidemic. Last year, the UNODC released a report claiming that 15% of our population are problem drug users. This means that 7.2 million people in South Africa require addiction treatment but have no access to it.

Addiction will kill more people this year than AIDS will yet corporates and philanthropies still have not identified the epidemic as one that requires their funding attention. “It’s just not a sexy issue to get involved in” and “why should we help people who are addicted if they did this to themselves?” are the replies that organisations such as The Addiction Action Campaign (AAC) hear when asking for financial assistance to address the issue.

The terrifying reality is that if the authorities in power and the corporates with funding power continue to adopt these ignorant attitudes, this figure will double within the next 5 – 10 years. Addiction today faces the same negative attitudes as HIV did 15 years ago and this must change.

The other mind numbing truth is that South Africa is dependent on the taxes generated from addictive products and services. We are addicted to money generated from addiction but are spending the taxes generated everywhere else other than on prevention and treatment.

Warren Whitfield who is the founder and chief executive of the AAC argues, “It is a disgrace and a national tragedy what is happening. The truth is at least 35% of the income generated in casinos comes from people who are problem gamblers and whose lives are being destroyed by gambling. Yet it was legalized to generate more income to fund social issues and last year casinos gave back less than 0.1% to prevention and treatment.” He said, “The same goes for other addictive products and services such as alcohol, tobacco, pornography and pharmaceuticals. Practically nothing is spent by these industries on prevention and treatment and they continue to deny any accountability whatsoever in addressing the harm their products cause.”

“How is it that we hold individuals accountable under the law for the harm that they cause to others but we don’t hold ‘addictive’ companies accountable for the damage they cause to South Africa? We’ve given companies in these industries the legal identities of individuals in the market place, yet they believe that they are immune to the responsibility that comes with being an individual”.

This week, government will continue to fill their coffers with funds provided by addicted people and profit driven corporates will continue to deny any accountability for addressing the epidemic that they helped to create. This week foreigners will continue to be blamed for the illicit drug trafficking trade thereby creating more xenophobia, while most South Africans are blissfully unaware that we have had no drug enforcement agency since 2004.

The issue of addiction in our country needs drastic and immense funding soon if we are to have any impact whatsoever on the epidemic within the next 10 years. The Addiction Action Campaign calls on government and companies to pay more attention to the subject and urges South Africans to join us in challenging those that need to be challenged, in helping those that need help and preventing future generations from finding themselves with an addiction.

The Addiction Action Campaign

The Addiction Action Campaign

2010 FIFA World Cup – A legacy marred before it even began

Written by Warren Whitfield. Posted in Articles

‘Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does… It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.’ – Nelson Mandela

During the remarkable post-match presentation ceremony, Nelson Mandela wearing a Springbok jersey bearing Francois Pienaar’s number 6, presented him with the Webb Ellis trophy. During his acceptance speech, Pienaar made it clear that the team had won the trophy not just with the support of the 60,000 fans at Ellis Park, but also with the support of all 43,000,000 South Africans.


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