An interesting picture has emerged of Wedge Gardens rehab centre outside Johannesburg, following research done by Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, formerly known as Medunsa University.
The university’s research was done over the past year and involved 246 patients at Wedge Garden’s in-patient facility for men aged between 18 to 82 years old.
“The research highlighted addiction trends and provided valuable information regarding substance abuse for us as a treatment centre,” says Karen Griessel, a Wedge Gardens social worker.
“Our highest population age range is 18 to 39 and dwindles as the age increases. Racially, we assist more white men followed by black then coloured then Indian men.
“The population is made up largely of single men with a small percentage of married or divorced patients. Very few are widowed. Educationally, more than half have matriculated and a good portion of patients have diplomas or certificates,” she says.
Unfortunately, a very high percentage is unemployed. The report showed that in more than half of the men, their direct family is responsible for financially assisting them. “Some are self-sufficient,” she added.
Most also live with family members.
“Interestingly, half of the men were brought up in two-parent homes, followed by a large percentage of single-mother homes.
“Christianity is the major religion practised. Some of those researched have no religious affiliation while a few other religions are practised by a minority of the men.
“Half of the men have on average one or two children of their own,” says Karen.
Shockingly, more than half reported that they were between the ages of 10 and 15 when they first tried drugs. The next age group was 16 to 21 years.
Most first experimented with cannabis, alcohol and cigarettes.
The drugs used just prior to admission include dagga (39.4%), alcohol (32.5%), cigarettes (28%), tik (24.4%), nyope (24%), khat (20.3%) and cocaine (16.3%).
Karen says that in the years leading up to their admission to the rehab centre, many said they used dagga, alcohol, cigarettes and khat.
“Interestingly, prescription medication featured as well (19.1%).
“Another concern is that 38.8% of the sample population said that family members – mostly brothers and fathers – use drugs on a regular basis.”
According to the research, a very high percentage have been in rehab before, with some having taken the decision themselves to get help and other being urged to do so by concerned parents.
The reasons given for their drug use include: It makes them feel good (56.5%), stress (56.1%), curiosity (45.1%), chasing a high (43.1%), coping (39.4%), family problems (38.6%), availability (37.8%), needing something stronger (30.1%) and finances (17.1%) .
“Ultimately, it is important to understand the people we work with so we can better help them,” says Karen.
* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)