Category Archives: Rand Aid Association

SANCA Wedge Gardens’ clients let go of the past

SANCA Wedge Gardens treatment centre clients recently took part in an occupational therapy activity that helped them to let go of the past.

“Each client received a piece of paper with bubbles drawn on it. They wrote down aspects of their lives that they would like to ‘blow away’, inside the bubbles,” explains Caryn Berman, SANCA Wedge Gardens’ occupational therapist.

“Then they went outside and ‘blew away’ these aspects of their lives. Some even decided to then burn their paper, as a symbolic act,” she adds.

SANCA Wedge Gardens has some outdoor fun!

SANCA Wedge Gardens treatment centre held a lovely boerewors roll braai and entertainment morning for its clients on 31 March.

“After enjoying the boerewors rolls, we were entertained with superb talent, including singing, rapping, poetry and some talks.  It was a lovely, relaxing and entertaining morning,” says Caryn Berman, SANCA Wedge Gardens’ occupational therapist.

Substance use disorder in the workplace: What can employers do?

Substance use is on the rise in South Africa and is even more prevalent than HIV/Aids.

This is according to Adèl Grobbelaar, the manager of Johannesburg-based SANCA Wedge Gardens, a substance use treatment centre.

“The latest crime statistics reflect that 170 people died daily from alcohol-related incidents and illnesses,” says Adèl.

“Taking the statistics into consideration, it is possible that a significant number of people and/or their loved ones may encounter substance use-related problems that can impact their productivity in the workplace,” she adds.

As employees are a company’s greatest asset, effectively dealing with substance use in the workplace is essential.

“Dismissal of the employee, which many employers consider as their first course of action, could result in the company losing trained and valuable staff and increasing its costs, as new employees would have to be hired and trained,” says Adèl.

“SANCA Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre can assist companies with these employees and help them deal with the substance use problem as efficiently and effectively as possible,” she adds.

The early warning signs of substance use that employers should look out for include poor time management (missing deadlines / lateness); ineffective decision making; excessive use of sick and annual leave; extended lunch hours and leaving work early without permission; changes in appearance; being involved in accidents or having near misses and making errors; changes in behaviour and attitude (mood swings, anxiety, depression, aggression, being oversensitive, agitated, volatile, fatigued and a loss of interest); smelling alcohol or dagga on an employee’s breath; signs of intoxication, including dilated or constricted pupils, poor fine or gross motor skills and red eyes; and theft and deviance.

“When dealing with substance use in the workplace, an employer should gather facts with regard to the above-mentioned signs of substance use so that they can confront and discuss the matter with the employee,” says Adèl.

“SANCA Wedge Gardens conducts drug testing and can provide an assessment of the employee to determine the severity of the substance use disorder. We also offer substance use detection training for management, so that mangers are able to detect problems early; and we participate in wellness days to create awareness around substance use disorder,” she adds.

When dealing with an employee who has a substance use disorder, employers can involve unions and start a disciplinary procedure against the employee.

“Assisting an employee with rehabilitation should be considered if the person does not endanger lives at work. Once given the option, if an employee does not comply with the full treatment (in-patient or out-patient and aftercare) they can be fired. However, dismissal should only be an option when an intervention has been conducted by the employer,” says Adèl.

For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens’ Full Circle Recovery Programme,  employers can contact Adèl at 011 430 0320 or visit

Wedge Gardens’ OT department celebrates the festive season

The festive season started quietly at SANCA Wedge Gardens’ occupation therapy department, with clients experiencing some anxiety about coping with the holiday period while maintaining sobriety. 

“To assist, we held sessions on triggers and coping mechanisms for anger and disappointment, which could lead to relapse. We also held sessions on how our clients could handle not seeing their family and friends, and coping with their feelings,” says Caryn Berman, SANCA Wedge Gardens’ occupational therapist.

“On the fun side, we decorated the department, including using recycled decorations such as Nespresso pods, and clients started making gifts for friends and family. They learnt how to make Christmas chocolates, which were packed with biscuits that they baked, decorated and placed under the Christmas tree to be distributed to all,” she adds.

Some of the clients also made Christmas cards for friends and family. “They also made beautiful gifts, including mobile phone stands, necklaces, keyrings and gratitude rocks to assist with feelings of gratitude. They packed and wrapped them and learnt how to make bows to decorate the gifts,” says Caryn.

Groups were more ‘relaxed’ at times, as games and competitions took place with fierce determination and great competitive spirit.  “These included ‘table golf’ with candy canes and marshmallows, and scavenger hunts. The activities helped our clients to enjoy the festive season, while dealing with all of the emotions that it evokes. Some went home to celebrate, while others remained at SANCA Wedge Gardens,” says Caryn.

This too shall pass!

By: Estelle Raath, Deputy Complex Manager SANCA Wedge Gardens

When will everything be back to normal? What is normal?

These are the questions South Africans are asking as a result of Covid-19, being back on Level 4 lockdown and the current civil unrest in the country.

These very same questions are the ones that those going through substance use recovery ask themselves.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when we run out of strength and need to stop, take stock and reset.

It was Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said: “The only constant in life is change.” No matter what season your life is in, know that it will always be one of change. Just as tides roll in, so too do they roll back out. This reminds us that ‘this too shall pass’. The rain will stop eventually, ask Noah.

When you are suffering from a substance use disorder you must remember that this too shall pass. Your addiction could just be a season in your life that needs to change. Any change requires an action and your action could be deciding to go to rehab.

How does the saying ‘this too shall pass’ help you in recovery? Often people just feel overwhelmed with what’s happening in their in life at that moment. These unexpected twists, that we don’t plan for, can be hard to take. But your perseverance will pay off if you can just get through the process of withdrawal and begin to heal.

When you decide to go to rehab, you have to make a commitment to go to any length to achieve victory over your addiction – whether it be drugs or alcohol.

You will have moments when you are overwhelmed with mental, physical and spiritual pain. These feelings are entirely normal and strike most significantly during the stages of withdrawal.

As with Covid-19, if you find yourself dealing with a tough situation, know that it will be temporary and, if you overcome these feelings and stay on track with your recovery, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Also remember, when you experience bliss – enjoy the moment and keep moving forward.

I read a beautiful piece by Helen Keller that says: “Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s Full Circle Recovery Programme, visit

Step work in recovery: Step 3

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 step.”

For more information about SANCA Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre, visit or call 011 430 0320.

Step work in recovery: Step 2

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 or call 011 430 0320.

Step work in recovery: Step 1

Having a 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 Wedge Gardens.

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 starts.

“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.

She explains 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.

“Denial, 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 or call 011 430 0320.

Meaning of life in recovery

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 actions.

“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, practising mindfulness.
  • 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

A new normal

Adaptation is a word in psychology that basically describes changing to meet needs within a certain context and situation.

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 or phone 010 534 6596.