Answer to a question from a reader

Are there any free rehabilitation centres in Cape Town that take in heroin users?

The short answer

There are two free government in-patient rehab centres in Cape Town. Other clinics may also be able to help.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I have a friend who is addicted to heroin and wants to change his life. He lives in Athlone, Cape Town but he has no financial income and is on the verge of losing his family. We have been trying to find a free rehabilitation centre for two years now. Are there any such places in Cape Town?

The long answer

You could 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 direct you to the most appropriate treatment centre, refer you to counselling services, or answer any other questions you might have.

For Metro South, which includes Athlone, the government information number for substance abuse help is 021 763 6206.

The Western Cape Government website notes that for heroin addiction, a person might be referred to a detox facility as an in-patient. (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.)

Unfortunately, there seem to be only two free government in-patient rehab centres in Cape Town. These free centres are:

  • De Novo Centre in Kraaifontein. 

Contact person: Ms C. Fledermaus

Tel: 021 9881138/9


  • Kensington Treatment Centre (for women only) in Maitland

Tel: 021 5119169 / 021 5101735

Government treatment centres require a referral from a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Sadly, it is likely that there is a long queue for treatment, but you would need to establish this by phoning the contact numbers provided above.  

You can, however, take someone directly to a city clinic or any community-based/outpatient treatment service (such as SANCA: 0800 220 250). If you are 18 years or older, you can go directly to one of the City of Cape Town's clinics offering matrix-certified drug and alcohol support programmes or your nearest community-based treatment service, such as SANCA. A social development office or social worker may conduct a screening (alcohol and drugs) and assessment and offer support and counselling before referring him to the right support group or treatment centre.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on April 1, 2021, 12:52 p.m.

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