Sadag launches WhatsApp helpline for youth

In its efforts to curb substance abuse and to support the youth, the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag), in partnership with the department of social development (DSD), launched a special WhatsApp chat group.

Sadag project manager Dr Busisiwe Twala said the group had seen an increase in adolescents and young adults aged between 13 and 35 contacting their telephonic, SMS and online platforms.

As such, Sadag is promoting the WhatsApp chat group, which is as more easily
accessible for younger people. “Between April 2021 and March 2022, we had 89,992 youths contact us through our existing helplines, an increase of 107% from 2020,” Twala said.

“Younger people use WhatsApp frequently and we believe this new platform will offer more options when seeking support, guidance or help, whether for themselves or a family member.” Twala said

Admitting there was a problem was the first step to overcoming addiction to alcohol or drugs, but deciding to reach out for help was the necessary second step.

Sadag PR officer Katlego Gatsheni said: “Young people do not know where to go to find assistance . . . and this additional avenue provided by Sadag will assist in providing the necessary direction.”

“The chat line will offer basic counselling, self-help tips and tools for dealing with substance use as well as referrals to resources and information for all age groups across the country.”

Gatsheni said signs of addiction could include:

● Loss of interest in day-to-day activities ●Absence from or dropping out of school
● Changing friendship groups ● Becoming moody, negative, cranky, or worried all the time ● Trouble concentrating ● Lack of energy, resulting in sleeping much more ● Aggressive behaviour ● Committing crimes to feed the habit ● Red or puffy eyes ● Unexplained weight gain/loss

The new substance abuse chat line, available 7 days a week (8am -5pm) the number is: 087 163 2025. For more information, the substance abuse 24hr helpline is: 0800 12 13 14 or send an SMS to 32 312 

Anyone seeking help for drug addiction can call Sanca on 043-722-1210, Narcotics Anonymous on 086-100-6962, Alcoholics Anonymous on 086143-5722, or Masithethe Counselling Service on 043-7437222, or visit


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