Western Cape Provincial Substance Abuse Conference 13 - 14 December 2018

“You are more than just a Junky” – Changing the Discourses of Substance Abuse 2018

Western Cape Provincial Conference 13 – 14 December 2018

On behalf of the Department of Social Development, UCT, the Program Committee, cordially invite academics, scientific communities, therapists, counsellors, students and practitioners to attend the Frist Western Cape Provincial Conference on “You are more than just a Junky” – Changing the Discourses of Addiction 2018 which is to be held on 13 – 14December, 2018 at the University of Cape Town, SA.

Throughout history people have tried to understand the concept of drug use and why some people become dependent or addicted to certain drugs and why some don't. Many theories have been developed over time that provides us with explanations of drug use. Some of these theories have been developed into models which is a way of defining a problem or situation so that it can be more easily understood. These theories form part of dominant discourses wherein illicit substances are legitimately conceptualised in South Africa and more specifically the Western Cape as an epidemic that is dangerous to the body (medical), corruptive to the soul (moral), a threat to normative society (treatment), and thus must be outlawed (criminal). 


These approaches have not always allowed fresh consideration of how we should go about defining the ‘problem’ of drugs, how we should understand the materiality of drugs, their agency and that of other elements that make up drug use events and effects. If addiction is not a narrowly bounded state easy to diagnose, if it is not always the defining feature of people’s lives, and does not necessarily exclude everyday concerns such as health and wellbeing, what is it? How valid are attempts to delineate addiction and treat it as an independent entity with negative consequences? Dominant discourses on “Being more than just a Junky” must be taken on board. At the same time, however, we must also compose new directions for thinking and speaking about drug use and abuse contextualised in the uniqueness of the Western Cape Region.

1. Sessions/Tracks

Discourse 1: The Medical/Disease Model

The most popular view among addiction specialists is that an addict’s drug-seeking behavior is the direct result of some physiological change in their brain, caused by chronic use of the drug (Hart, and Ksir, 2011). The Disease View states that there is some “normal” process of motivation in the brain and that this process is somehow changed or perverted by brain damage or adaptation caused by chronic drug use. On this theory of addiction, the addict is no longer rational; she uses drugs as a result of a fundamentally non-voluntary process.

Discourse 2: The Moral Model

Perhaps the oldest view of addiction among professionals and philosophers has held that some part of an addict wishes to abstain, but their will is not strong enough to overcome an immediate desire towards temptation. On this view, addicts lose “control” over their actions. Most versions of the moral view characterise addiction as a battle in which an addict’s wish for abstinence seeks to gain control over his behaviour.

Discourse 3: The Treatment Model

It is believed that treatment should be individualised to accommodate the specific risks and needs associated with a person’s substance abuse. Substances can be divided into various groups each with its own symptoms and associated disorders. A comprehensive assessment serves as the basis for an individualised integrated treatment plan. The treatment plan should incorporate multiple treatment approaches in order to address the unique symptoms associated with specific substances. In cases where individuals suffer from co-occurring substance abuse disorders interventions should be included to address substances individually.

Discourse 4: The Criminal Justice Model

The drug-crime relationship is a complex one due to the process of trafficking, growing, manufacturing, and selling of the drugs, all of which are crimes in their own right. This relationship is also influenced by the type of substance being abused and the crimes associated with the substance and the users of the substance (Matthew, 2008).

Discourse 5: The Social Development Model

This model is based on the idea that the type of society in which people live has an impact on their drug use. In particular, this model makes links between inequality and drug use. It suggests that people who belong to groups who are culturally and socially disadvantaged are more likely to experience substance abuse problems. It also recognises that society labels users of certain substances as deviant, thereby creating further problems. Because this model links substance abuse to the conditions of the wider society, the solution to 'drug problems' revolves around changing the social environment, rather than treating individuals. This involves developing ways to address inequality, poverty, poor housing and discrimination.

2. Call for Papers and Posters

Conference Topics include:

Theme 1: The Medical/Disease Model

  • TIK/Methamphetamines and the Brain
  • Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment
  • Prescription Drug and Licit Drug Abuse
  • Professional Development and Training
  • Recovery Support

Theme 2: The Moral Model

  • Therapeutic communities and the addict
  • The spirituality of addiction
  • Ethics & the Addict
  • Holistic Care
  • Prevention/Intervention

Theme 3: The Treatment Model

  • Evidence Based Practice and Intervention
  • Assessment vs. Diagnoses
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Families and Treatment
  • Counselling/Clinical Strategies
  • Trauma work with the addict, family and others

Theme 4: The Criminal Justice Model

  • Violence, gangsterism and drugs
  • Syndicates and International Drug Trade
  • Drug-crime-relationship
  • Policing the addict, family and community
  • Prevention and Intervention

Theme 5: The Social Development Model

  • Historical contexts and history of the WC and the “Dop System”
  • Gender Specific / Cultural Competence Strategies
  • Gender Matters
  • Leadership and Management of Treatment Services, Centres and Rehabs

Choose to submit:

A written abstract to deliver a 30-minute oral presentation, or

A poster presentation,

which addresses one or more of the conference themes listed above.


Written abstracts are not to exceed 300 words and should clearly outline the aims, contents and conclusions of the presentation. Abstracts should not include tables, figures or references.

All proposals will be reviewed by the program committee. Presentations will be selected to provide a program that offers a comprehensive and diverse treatment of issues related to the conference theme. Authors will be notified by e-mail of the outcome of their abstract.


3. Who should attend

  • Clinicians
    • Counsellors
    • Therapists
    • Psychologists
    • Private practice professionals
    • Interventionists
    • Social workers
  • Service users, their families and the community
    • Service users
    • Families of service users
    • Community at large
  • Executive and business professionals
    • Treatment centre owners and operators
    • CEOs
    • Executive directors
    • COOs
    • CFOs
    • Marketing, business development, and admissions leaders
  • Others with cause commitment
    • Law enforcement
    • Advocates, families, people in recovery
    • Public health and government officials


4. Ready to Register & Submit an Abstract

If you are ready to register to attend, please follow this link:

If you are ready submit an abstract for a Paper or Poster, please follow this link:

Thu, 13 Dec 2018 - 08:00 to Fri, 14 Dec 2018 - 17:00

University of Cape Town

Specifics to be announced

Contact Information: 

Ready to Register & Submit an Abstract

If you are ready to register to attend, please follow this link:

If you are ready submit an abstract for a Paper or Poster, please follow this link:

Associate Professor Leon Holtzhausen (e-mail: Tel 021 650 3495)