Category Archives: Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre

The cornerstones of recovery

Self-determination and motivation are two crucial elements in the recovery process of addicts.

Karen Griessel, a social worker at Sanca-accredited Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg, says the desire to get clean and sober must be internally driven.

“Self-determination and motivation rest on the person’s core values, interests and morality. The decision to stop drugs and alcohol has to be made by the addict. They must independently and freely make their own informed decisions about their recovery.

“I often meet families or loved ones who motivated and driving their loved one to get treatment but, unfortunately, if a person doesn’t have their own internal drive, motivation and self-determination, it makes the process more challenging,” says Karen.

The person suffering from the substance abuse disorder must want to change their lives and sometimes, says Karen, this process takes time.

“Unfortunately, addicts have often lost their self-belief and therefore don’t feel like they are competent in dealing with life and the challenges that come their way.

“People with self-determination have self-belief and control over their lives; they take accountability and responsibility for their actions. It is these core qualities that are needed in the addiction recovery process.

“In fact, with the nation facing great levels of stress and anxiety as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we should all focus more on self-determination and motivation so that we do not get sucked into the negativity of helplessness, which leaves people feeling like they do not have the power to improve their situation.

“This leads to hopelessness – the feeling that nothing can be done by anyone to make a situation better – which is highly debilitating.”

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Drink responsibly during the coronavirus

Wedge Gardens rehab centre social worker Karen Griessel has issued a word of caution to South Africans, following the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcohol.

“For many, being able to enjoy a drink now and again is good news but for others, alcohol use creates problems,” she says.

She explains that alcohol abuse is generally defined as drinking too much alcohol too often – to the extent that it interferes with everyday life, functioning and relationships, even though it appears as if the individual’s life is still manageable.

Symptoms of alcohol abuse include the need to drink to relax, driving under the influence, problems in the family or friendships, neglecting responsibilities, legal problems and hangovers or vomiting.

Karen says some people might be tempted to hoard alcohol in case a ban is re-implemented. “This could put the social drinker at risk of drinking more than normal – especially because they are unable to resume their normal social activities and might feel bored and frustrated. Others with a limited budget may choose to buy alcohol rather than food.”

An increase in the abuse of alcohol will have a snowball effect, leading to more gender-based violence, crime and irresponsibility, she warns.

“Furthermore, those addicted to drugs who cannot find their fix will turn to alcohol to fill the gap.”

Alcohol causes people to lose their inhibitions and sense of responsibility and this type of risky action could be extremely dangerous at a time when South Africa’s coronavirus cases are expected to spike.

“At the end of the day, we all have to take responsibility for our own lives and that means making healthy choices when it comes to our alcohol consumption.”

You can do an alcohol and drug self-assessment test online at

Based in Johannesburg, Wedge Gardens offer holistic rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at

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Resilience – being psychologically and emotionally tough

No person goes without adversity, trials and tribulations and even more so those who dabble in addiction.

“Often, their challenges are self-inflicted,” says Karen Griessel, a social worker at Sanca-affiliated Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg.

“Being able to bounce back sooner than later is what matters. It must also be said that it takes conscious effort to be resilient and take your power back but, in the end, it is so worth it,” she says.

“If we look at the world pandemic at present, all of humanity is showing resilience in one way or another so it is part of most people’s nature to want to fight back or fight for what is right.

“The good news is that resilience can be practised, just like working on your muscles in the gym. If you are not born assertive or you lack confidence, it does not mean that you cannot nurture these characteristics. Learn to be solution-focused and not to obsess about problems – this, at the core, is all about self-belief.

“Research on resilience theory shows the importance of managing one’s immediate environment by addressing demands and stressors head-on,” she says.

Resilience ties into the strength-based perspective which means using one’s resources, skills, positive attributes and strengths to fight difficulties.

“Positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring a problem; it means understanding that troubles and setbacks happen but that with confidence and self-esteem, they can be overcome,” says Karen.

The 7 Cs of resilience

  • Competence in knowing how to handle a situation effectively.
  • Confidence rooted in competence.
  • Connection and networking.
  • Character in knowing what is right or wrong.
  • Contribution.
  • Coping, which leads to handling stressors better.
  • Control as a problem-solver and not a victim.

Wedge Gardens offers holistic rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at

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Self-care, an essential service to yourself

Making time for yourself in today’s busy world is often a challenge – and this is even worse for active addicts whose entire focus is on finding their next drink or hit.

Karen Griessel, a social worker at Johannesburg’s Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre, says an addict’s life is consumed with not only finding and using their alcohol, drug or pill of choice, but with thoughts of getting clean. “It is a continuous sick cycle that is their constant priority,” she says.

Taking care of themselves falls by the wayside, she adds.

“Once the recovery process has started, self-care becomes critical. Physical care – such as personal hygiene – is easy to achieve but emotional self-care is more complex.

“Let us be honest – all of us struggle to find the balance between looking after ourselves and getting through work, family and community obligations.

Karen says the intrinsic characteristics of kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness are vital when it comes looking after yourself holistically.

“During active addiction, individuals used drugs or alcohol to deal with stress, cope with life or to handle emotions so it is important for them to find new and healthy life and coping skills.

“Recovered addicts will have less chance of relapsing if they have a balanced lifestyle and a holistic sense of overall wellbeing: emotionally, physically and psychologically. This will empower them to fight off depression and anxiety, maintain positivity and reduce triggers and cravings,” she says.

Self-care tips:

  • Practise mindfulness, which is the conscious awareness of experiences by staying present.
  • Stay connected and have a healthy support structure.
  • Look for interests, opportunities and ideas and follow your goals and dreams.
  • Keep active by exercising because this naturally increases happy hormones.
  • If you need medical or psychological care, do not procrastinate – just do it.
  • Get enough sleep and follow a healthy diet to reduce stress.
  • Be aware of your negative states, like being hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
  • Make sure to maintain healthy boundaries if you feel irritated or uneasy.
  • Have fun and laugh a little and make sure you stop and smell the roses.
  • Reach out and ask for help if you need to.

Based in Johannesburg, Wedge Gardens offer holistic rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at

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Increased addiction challenges ahead?

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Addiction expert Adél Grobbelaar is concerned that the unavailability of legal cigarettes and alcohol during the lockdown will worsen the challenges faced by people living with addiction.

Adél, who holds honours degrees in social work and psychology, has dedicated over three decades to assisting alcoholics and drug addicts in an attempt to reintegrate them back into society.

She has run the Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg since July 1998.

“There is a lot of anger and frustration over the decision of government not to allow the sale of cigarettes and alcohol.

“Government seems to think that if people cannot obtain ciggies and booze, they will eventually stop using them. While the legal availability of both these substances presents the perfect time to give up smoking and reduce drinking, human nature and addiction means this will unfortunately not be the option taken by the majority of people.

“Instead, alcohol and cigarettes are being bought on the black market and many of these products are even more harmful than what is available legally. The poor quality of black market products will worsen existing health problems and speed up the development of new ones.

“Working in a rehabilitation centre and admitting patients during this period has made it clear to me that people suffering from substance use disorders will definitely make a plan to lay their hands not only on cigarettes and alcohol, but also illicit drugs.

“Someone always knows someone else who can get anything for a price,” says Adél.

“Addicts would rather buy drugs and booze than food – therefore the legal unavailability is not addressing addiction problems.”

People queued for miles to stock up before the lockdown was enforced. Can you imagine the chaos when sales are once again allowed? she asks.

Another concern is that with the recession, people might not be able to afford the costs of the legal products and with the new contacts they have made on the black market, will turn to increasingly inferior products, once black market prices drop down to what they were before the lockdown.

“The unavailability of cigarettes and alcohol is not necessarily going to address the addiction problems in our country – in fact, it might aggravate them in the long-term. Time will tell,” says Adél.

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The power of positivity

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During these testing times of COVID-19, many people are struggling with depression and anxiety. This poses particular challenges to people already battling substance abuse problems, especially those who have a dual diagnosis and also battle mental health issues.

“It is said that we win over negativity with positivity. Good feelings and thoughts will hopefully snowball to create peace,” says Sanca Wedge Gardens rehab centre social worker Karen Griessel.

“It is important to choose to be around people who are positive as their attitude will rub off on you – and the opposite is also true because negativity breeds negativity.

“Easier said than done, you say?

“With the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic hanging over our heads, many people feel overwhelmed. We do, however, have power in our free will and choices. Doing the next right thing and making positive choices can be a great tool for bringing about a positive outcome in your mind’s eye.

“Have hope or faith that no matter the circumstances, something good will come of it and things will work out as they should. We can create an outcome by positive visualisation, which activates positive reinforced brain activity.

“Lastly, by knowing what you want, you will have a reason to try and change your mindset. This will add an emotional energy to drive the power of positivity.”

Based in Johannesburg, Wedge Gardens offers holistic rehabilitation for the body, mind and soul. Find out more at

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The nudge you need to stop smoking

It is difficult to stop smoking. You will have intense cravings, be irritated, may feel depressed and anxious and may even have slight flu symptoms such as a headache, cough, sore throat and even nausea.

“There is no magic pill,” says Karen Griessel, a social worker at Sanca rehab centre Wedge Gardens, based in Johannesburg.

“With the ban on tobacco products during the national coronavirus lockdown, people have been forced to buy on the black market. These cigarettes are of poor quality and can be over four times more expensive.

“We all know smoking that cigarettes are bad for your health and that there are many harmful additives in smokes. Imagine how much worse these cheap cigarettes are, considering that there are no regulations governing their manufacture.

“Now is the perfect time to try and quit,” says Karen, “and there is a long list of benefits.”

Why you should quit

  • To minimise your chances of getting tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, as well as many other cancers.
  • Those around you who inhale your smoke are also at risk.
  • Heart disease has been linked to smoking.
  • Smokers have become outcasts in public places.
  • Financial reasons – do yourself a favour and calculate how much your habit costs you.
  • You will benefit from more preferential life insurance costs.
  • Studies have shown that non-smokers sleep longer and deeper.
  • You will cough less and your post-nasal drip will improve.
  • Your hands, mouth, hair and environment will not stink anymore.
  • No more yellow fingers or stained teeth.
  • You will get sick less often because smoking attacks the immune system and makes you prone to illness.

Tips for quitting

  • Stop pattern triggers for three weeks and, as we say in recovery, avoid people, places or things associated with smoking.
  • Exercise until you sweat because this will help your body get rid of the nicotine.
  • Do not toy with the idea that you can have just one more.
  • Rather go cold turkey than cut down.
  • Keep your hands busy by doing practical tasks.
  • Do not be fearful of getting fat; practise healthy cooking and know that even if you do gain some weight initially, it will stabilise.
  • Talk about your challenges because quitting is a mental struggle.
  • Practise mindfulness techniques like deep breathing.
  • Know that cravings will lessen, so tell yourself: ‘This too shall pass’.
  • Find 10 reasons why you want to quit and repeat them morning and night.
  • Do not be around smokers.
  • Brush your teeth after eating instead of having a smoke.
  • Do not drink coffee or alcohol if you associate these with smoking.
  • Chew gum when driving if you used to drive and smoke.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Get support.

Check out For more information on Wedge Gardens, visit or call 010 534 6596.

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Wedge Gardens cares for its caregivers

Valentine’s Day at Wedge Gardens treatment centre was all about showing the staff that they are cherished for the important work they do in combating substance abuse.

“Each staff members was responsible for decorating the office door of a colleague, with a draw being done to determine who decorated each door. The theme was obviously ‘love’ and the results were creative, colourful and uplifted everyone’s spirits,” says Adél Grobbelaar, the manager of Wedge Gardens.

Each staff member also received a breakfast pack in a bright red box, containing a yoghurt, single-serving packet of muesli, a coffee sachet and a chocolate.

“We used this opportunity to care for our caregivers and to show staff members how much they are valued,” says Adél.

A happy smile from receptionist Petunia Tshabalala.

Wearing red glasses and heart earrings is admin clerk Hlumela Anderson.

Nursing staff Lydia Maseko and Merios Maluleke.

Estelle Raath (Wedge Gardens deputy manager) and dextox staff Lydia Maseko and Merios Maluleke.

Love is in the air… cashier Rebecca Nkabi.

Hlumela Anderson with her breakfast pack.

Merios Maluleke and Margaret Phungola.

The creatively decorated Valentine’s doors.

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Wedge Gardens pays tribute to volunteers

Volunteers who give of their time to help Wedge Gardens rehab centre patients reclaim their place in society are owed a huge debt of gratitude.

This is according to Adèl Grobbelaar, the manager of the Rand Aid-run treatment centre in Johannesburg.

Wedge Gardens hosted a thank you function on December 6 at which tribute was paid to the centre’s dedicated volunteers.

“Our volunteers make a huge difference. Their generosity has had a profound and lasting impact on our services. Their willingness to share both their time and talent says a lot about each of them as a human being and their willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks both to their strength and the quality of their character,” said Adèl on the day.

“A volunteer makes a commitment to share the most precious of their resources – their time – to make life better for those in need. Volunteers choose to render services without any expectation of reward or recognition.”

Each volunteer was presented with a pretty sugar spoon bearing the following tagline – They don’t necessarily have the time; they just have the heart. Thank you!

After the formalities, volunteers and staff enjoyed a delicious tea and a chance to catch up.

A thank-you function was held at Wedge Gardens to pay tribute to the rehab centre’s wonderful volunteers.

A sugar spoon was presented to each volunteer as a token of gratitude.

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