In Step 2, people
undergoing the 12-Step programme make a decision to turn their will and lives
over to the care of God as they understood him, says
Karen Griessel, a social worker at SANCA Wedge Gardens.
“This week, we take a look at Step 3.
“Action is now needed after discovering the power
greater than ourselves by making a decision to allow someone or something to
take care of us, but not enable or control us.
“Making a decision can feel intimidating and
overwhelming and if it is not followed up by an action, it is meaningless.
Therefore, decisions taken during the recovery journey have to be conscious
commitments,” says Karen.
“Those in active addiction acted in self will, being
selfish. Like tornadoes, they whirled destruction wherever they went. The
opposite is true for this step, where you hand over self will to God, as
understood. You now want to stay clean, rather than wanting to use; and want to
have a sponsor and go to meetings. The God of our understanding is basically a
representation of the spiritual principles of the steps and it is important to
have open communication with the higher power and allow all types of feelings
in the process, whether good or bad.
“Furthermore, the spiritual principles of surrendering
and willingness are essential in moving through this step, where the hope of
the previous step turns to faith which gives strength to continue to the next
For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens
Treatment Centre, visit www.wedgegardens.co.za
or call 011 430 0320.
This week, SANCA Wedge Gardens rehab centre takes a
look at Step 2 in the 12-Step programme.
“In Step 2 we come to believe that a power greater
than ourselves can restore us to sanity,” says
Karen Griessel, a Wedge Gardens social worker.
Step 2 gives hope and possibility of recovery as
individuals find a power greater than themselves which is capable of healing
hurt, calming confusion and restoring sanity.
“Furthermore, we learn to understand that insanity is
defined as repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. The
beauty of Step 2 encourages the individual to choose a power that is loving,
caring and, most importantly, can restore us to sanity. The hope from working
Step 2 replaces the desperation and no matter how painful the process of
demolishing our denial, something else is being restored in its place within
us,” she says.
It is important to remember that Step 2 is a process,
not an event. It is a process of restoration to sanity where better decisions
are made and, therefore, better consequences. Spiritual principles, including
open-mindedness, willingness, faith, trust and humility, play a big role in
this step. It is about moving on and working this step to gain hope and
motivation to move to the next step in the recovery process.
For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens
Treatment Centre, visit www.wedgegardens.co.za
or call 011 430 0320.
framework to tackle recovery is essential and the 12 Steps are very helpful
during this process, says Karen Griessel, a social worker at SANCA rehab centre
Today we look
at Step 1: We have admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, and that
our lives had become unmanageable.
This is where healing
“Comfort can be
found in realising that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing and
making the principles of acceptance, humility, willingness, honesty and
open-mindedness a fundamental part of the self – after accepting being an
addict that has hit rock bottom and knowing one must surrender,” says Griessel.
that when in active addiction, the disease is alive because the person is
trapped in obsessive, compulsive, self-centred routines – with endless loops
that lead nowhere but to physical, mental, spiritual and emotional decay.
despair, isolation, powerlessness and reservations are all part of the unmanageability
of the disease of addiction. This needs to be admitted before an individual can
move on from their old ways and accept that a new way is called for.”
For more information
about SANCA Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre, visit www.wedgegardens.co.za or call 011 430
Have you ever found yourself in a spiritual
conversation with someone, pondering the meaning of life?
“I know I have, a number of times,” says Karen
Griessel, a social worker at SANCA rehab centre Wedge Gardens.
“It is in finding purpose that we also find
comfort in this life because we feel like we are contributing and ultimately
making the world a better place. Furthermore, living a life of purpose comes
with a rule book of values, morals and standards by which we can judge our
“This ties into our self-worth as human beings.
When individuals are in addiction, their meaning is to find and use drugs,
using any means necessary. They will sacrifice morals and just about anything to
get their fix, which gets intertwined with negative emotions and often
depression, due to living this mundane and often lonely and isolated existence.
She says finding purpose in recovery can feel
even more overwhelming because recovery from addiction in itself is challenging
and there are many issues that they have to deal with, never mind answering
this spiritual question. However, those in recovery can simplify this process
by implementing some of the following:
Make a daily to-do list and create
structure with daily planning.
Learn new ways of living by
gaining life and coping skills.
Take a deep breath and relax,
Practise cleanliness by
keeping yourself and environment neat.
Write in a journal to discover
yourself again, your fears and hopes.
Let go and let God, which ties
in with the Serenity Prayer.
Forgive yourself – this opens
the door to healing.
Work through the 12-steps,
which will lead to self-discovery and meaning.
Based in Johannesburg, Wedge Gardens offer holistic
rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at
Adaptation is a word in psychology that
basically describes changing to meet needs within a certain context and
It involves two processes, namely ASSIMILATION
– applying past knowledge to new situations and ACCOMMODATION – altering past
knowledge to fit the new.
“We all had to learn how to adapt within the
restrictions of the pandemic and, now and again, we have to adapt to the after-effects
of the pandemic, whether on an economic, emotional, psychological or relational
level,” says SANCA Wedge Gardens social worker Karel Griessel.
“By practising assimilation and accommodation,
we can all strive for a sense of equilibrium, which is the balance between our
selves and the world around us. As we encounter new things and interpret them,
we must make adjustments in order to survive. The good news is most of us have
resilience and the ability to apply these concepts.
“It is often said that change is the only
constant we can expect in life and those who are able to adapt, will survive
and even succeed. Here at Wedge Gardens, the process of rehabilitation can
initially be difficult for new patients but once adapted and settled, the
treatment process becomes progressively positive as the patient begins to see
that it is possible to find balance in their lives again.”
For help with addiction recovery, contact Wedge
Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg. Visit www.wedgegardens.co.za
or phone 010 534 6596.
SANCA Wedge Gardens toasted its nursing staff recently for
the excellent job they did in caring for their substance abuse recovery
patients during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.
On September 4, the nurses were all presented with a
specially-made coffee cup that reads: Never underestimate a nurse who
survived the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Sister Estelle Raath, the deputy manager of the rehab
centre, says nurses demonstrate bravery, endurance and dedication.
“To all the nursing staff of Wedge Gardens, thank you for
all you are doing during the pandemic. We appreciate all your hard work. Thank
you so much for making sure the patients at Wedge receive the care they need to
be safe. You are all superheroes for working so hard during these challenging
Estelle says the hours put in by the nurses over the past
few months were gruelling and they were very aware that they were putting
themselves at risk of contracting the disease while the majority of South
Africans sheltered at home.
“My hope is that everyone will come to have a greater
appreciation for those who work in the medical field.”
With regard the ongoing pandemic and possibilities of
further surges in the infection rate in South Africa, she says: “Let’s take it
one day at a time. Don’t let scary thoughts win; continue to fight and never
quit. We will beat the virus, overcome our fatigue and find the strength we
need to carry on.
“May God bless you all for doing this difficult job every day
with a smile on your faces!”
South Africa has banned the sale of cigarettes
during lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 but the big illegal cigarette
brands are now the best sellers around the country.
“As most of us know, smoking is one of the
leading causes of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases worldwide. Unlike
legally produced cigarettes, illicitly produced cigarettes do not comply with
manufacturing and safety standards,” warns Estelle Raath, the deputy manager of Johannesburg-based
Sanca Wedge Gardens rehab centre.
Cigarettes contain the addictive drug nicotine,
as well as other toxic chemicals which are carcinogenic (cancer forming).
“There is no safe method of smoking. Nicotine
in tobacco is a very powerful addictive substance. Nicotine produces pleasing effects in your
brain, but these effects are temporary, and that is why you reach for another
“The addictive nature of nicotine and
withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit are what makes nicotine dependence a
chronic relapsing disease.
“With the current cigarette ban, my question is
‘If the smoking of legally produced cigarettes can cause so many diseases, what
are the illegal brands doing to smokers?’
“What other effects will smokers be sitting
with post COVID-19 and will we see a rise in substance abuse figures if these
illegal cigarettes contain chemicals that will leave smokers with more severe
symptoms and withdrawals?”
People who abuse drugs or
alcohol often do so to cope with anxiety, depression and other mental health
issues. A global pandemic like COVID-19 can trigger a wide range of emotional
reactions, causing high levels of anxiety and stress for all of us.
“Substance use and abuse
during this time should be avoided but ironically, people turn to substances to
cope with the stress and trauma,” says Estelle Raath, the deputy manager of
Johannesburg-based Sanca Wedge Gardens rehab centre.
People often cope by using
substances, primarily things that are easily available like alcohol, tobacco,
cannabis and non-prescription medications, she explains. “That’s why substance
abuse may rise during COVID-19. Substance abusers might look for a way to feel
better and escape from the traumatic and stressful circumstances. When they use
drugs or alcohol, the reward pathways in their brain are triggered.
“Many substance abusers
have underlying medical conditions, which often place them at great risk of
contracting COVID-19. The fear that they might get the virus by leaving their
homes or going back to work can cause extreme anxiety for many and anxiety and
stress are huge triggers for relapse,” says Estelle.
She explains that when a
person’s stress overwhelms their coping skills, they are more likely to abuse
substances, to relapse or to increase the substances they already use.
“We are social beings and
in need of human contact. COVID-19 has exposed people to isolation,
relationship challenges and financial insecurity. During isolation, no contact
can have a negative impact on mental health and again there is a correlation
between mental health and addiction.”
For those at risk
of relapse during this time, it is important to reach out for help before it
Other measures to
promote wellbeing during the pandemic:
Reduce or stop taking any non-prescribed substances if you can do it
Take prescription medication as prescribed.
Reduce the intake of caffeine and alcohol.
Connect with loved ones while maintaining physical distances.
Join addiction support groups; there are many groups available online.
Seek professional help if you cannot do it alone.
Gardens offers a professional substance abuse treatment programme based on
various psychological theories which were pioneered nationally. It is run in
conjunction with the 12-step professional programme.To contact Wedge Gardens, call 010 534 6596
or visit www.wedgegardens.co.za
My life revolved around alcohol, says 51-year-old
James Algera who recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety.
After growing up in Rustenburg in the North West,
James – like all abled bodied South African boys at the time – was conscripted
into the South African army for his national service. It was while in the army
that 19-year-old James first started drinking.
It was to be a long 20 years before he got clean and
in that time, alcohol nearly cost him his family and livelihood. Today, his
life is on track and James says he is in a good place, working as a structural
aircraft technician (sheet metal) in Saudi Arabia.
On July 19, 2020, he had been clean for exactly one
decade and to commemorate the milestone, he sent an email of thanks to Wedge
Garden’s Adél Grobbelaar, who has headed up the Sanca rehab centre since 1998.
“Today, 10 years ago, I asked my work to allow me to
be booked in at Wedge Gardens for alcohol abuse. I can proudly tell Wedge
Gardens today that it has been 10 years and I have never touched a drink again.
It has been a long and difficult road but with all Wedge Gardens’ teaching and
care, I made a difference in my life and society. Thank you, guys, so much for
my time there and all the care you took of me,” he wrote.
Looking back on his early days of drinking, James says
that the impact of his addiction was initially ‘not too bad’.
“As I got older, alcohol became a priority in my life
– everything revolved around it,” he says.
James was working in the aviation industry and he and
his family were living in Kempton Park. “Those years, using alcohol was the in
thing with the ‘boys’.
Eventually, he hit rock bottom – unable to function
properly at work or as a husband and father.
“My finances were in a bad way and I would drink to
make my problems disappear. I would make up with a hangover each day and my
problems just got bigger and bigger. Eventually, my wife said that I had to
choose between the bottle and her and our children.”
James had previously been told about Wedge Gardens by
his employer and made the life-changing decision to ask for help, thus starting
a new chapter in his life.
“The Wedge Gardens programme taught me to face life
without using alcohol to cope,” he says.
After leaving Wedge Gardens, James still faced a
number of challenges in reclaiming his life. “It was difficult. I had to leave
my old ways behind and get used to a new way of life – like fishing and camping
without a beer in my hand. I avoided so-called ‘friends’ who, it turned out,
only wanted to know me when I bought them drinks or drunk with them.
“I had to change my lifestyle and make new, sober
friends. Basically, at the age of 40, I had to start over again. This time, my
wife and two children were my priority.”
James says that four years after leaving Wedge
Gardens, his finances were still very shaky and he decided to apply for an
aviation job in Saudi Arabia.
“By the grace of God, my application was successful
and I have built a good career over the past six years.”
James’s wife lives in Saudi with him and their son
spent three years there with his parents but now lives in Kempton Park with his
sister, who is married and has given the Algeras two beautiful grandchildren.
James says he no longer thinks of drinking and
describes his emotional state as strong and positive.
“My advice to people battling alcohol is to focus on
God because He will help you through your struggles. Have faith and believe you
will get through the recovery process. Forget the world and focus on yourself.
“Do not be afraid to ask your family or, if you are
employed, your work for help. You will succeed; stay strong.”
KAREN GRIESSEL, A SOCIAL WORKER AT JOHANNESBURG’S SANCA WEDGE GARDENS TREATMENT CENTRE, TALKS ABOUT FAITH VERSUS FEAR AND HOW HAVING FAITH CAN HELP THE ADDICTION RECOVERY PROCESS:
During these trying times, a common experience
many are having is the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds.
There have been many job losses and few
opportunities exist. Then there is the pressure to maintain livelihoods within
the challenges of families and relationships. If substance abuse is added to
the mix, it paints a dim and unsettling picture.
Fear of the future not only keeps people
trapped in addiction, it also prevent them from making progress in recovery.
The most common fears that people experience include financial insecurity,
worry about how they will cope without alcohol or drugs, death, disease and
illness, relationship worries or that recovery is bland and boring with no
happiness, good feelings or the temporary comfort substances offer.
Another trap so many of us fall into so often
is worrying about things that have not happened – or may even never happen. It
is hard for people to let go of their concerns over what may happen and instead
focus on that which is in their control, which is preparing for the future.
The opposite of fear is faith, which is defined
as believing in that which is unseen in the hope that all will work out for the
good if we do the right thing.
Others forms of faith include having faith in
one’s own ability or in trusting others like a therapist or a support group or
a trusted friend or loved one. Even better is having faith in a higher power
for strength beyond understanding. A faith community also gives a person
support and structure, which may increase feelings of hope and the chance of
There is no amount of evidence that will
convince someone during active addiction that they can do without the
substances because the individual must be willing to take a leap of faith to
get the recovery ball rolling.