Step work in recovery: Step 4

In Step 4, people undergoing the 12-Step programme make a searching and fearless inventory of themselves, says Karen Griessel, a social worker at SANCA Wedge Gardens.

“The first question to ask when starting this step, is what it is that recovery means to you. Thus begins the journey of rediscovery. We can use the analogy of the onion peeling away denial, disease of addiction, character of defect and the harm caused to get to the core authenticity of the true self that is healthy and pure. This will hopefully be your spiritual awakening.

“Let’s look at ‘searching’ and ‘fearless’ as guiding words in this step. Taking a fearless inventory means going ahead despite our fear by having the courage to be honest and the determination to carry on even when it gets tough. This is where the hard work starts in the step work… by taking a moral inventory which broadly takes into consideration individual morality, values and principles of oneself.

“The inventory should be recorded which will include resentments, feelings, guilt, shame, fears, relationships, sexual relationships, abuse, assets, secrets and, ultimately, what it takes to move on. At the end of the day, it is about getting real with oneself, like taking off that continuous scab so that the wound can finally heal.”

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

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.

Wedge Gardens celebrates unity within diversity

Heritage Day on September 24 recognises and celebrates the cultural wealth of our nation and this year, the day provided the staff at SANCA Wedge Gardens rehab centre a chance to share their traditions with each other.

“We all dressed up and brought different dishes from our cultures to enjoy at a staff lunch. There was samp, chicken livers, milk tart and koeksisters,” says deputy manager Estelle Raath.

“Staff at Wedge Gardens represent many cultures and on this day, we are all reminded that South Africa belongs to all its people and that we need to build our nation and consolidate our national identity as one of unity within diversity.”

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.

Cheers to Wedge Gardens’ inspirational nurses

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 times.”

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!”

Bipolar disorder and addiction – An up-and-down swing of moods

Bipolar is classified as a mental illness characterised by extreme high and low moods. When people with substance abuse problems have a dual diagnosis of both addiction and a mental disorder, their path becomes extra challenging.

This is according to Karen Griessel, a social worker at Sanca Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg.

“With bipolar, the highs, otherwise known as mania, and the lows, marked by depression, can be experienced at different times or at the same time.

“Treating people diagnosed with bipolar disorder and substance abuse disorder – which  is when an individual suffers from substance dependency – is extremely challenging, especially when they are in active addiction,” she says. “It is more manageable when the person is in recovery, which is why it is essential that people with bipolar disorder seek treatment for their addiction.”

Symptoms of bipolar mania:

  • Feeling overly happy for a long time.
  • Sleeping little.
  • Talking fast.
  • Restlessness.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Engaging in risky behaviour, like taking drugs, having risky sex, gambling and spending too much money, to name a few.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling sad for long periods.
  • Withdrawing from life.
  • Losing interest in things your normally enjoy.
  • An increased or decreased appetite.
  • Severe fatigue.
  • Cognitive issues.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

“The disease of substance abuse affects a person’s brain and behaviour and leads to the inability to control oneself. This can be truly debilitating. As professionals, we use integrated therapeutic treatment strategies and approaches like cognitive behavioural therapy and dialectical behaviour therapy within our primary care treatment programme at Wedge Gardens.

“This is complemented by controlled psychiatric medication and supportive group therapy techniques, as well as continued psycho-education.

“The good news is it can be treated and managed successfully but it is a continuous process,” says Karen.

For help with addiction recovery, contact Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg. Visit or phone 010 534 6596.

International Overdose Day: 31 August

“I felt her body next to mine; she was cold. I tried to wake her, felt for a pulse, nothing. I carried her to the shower and tried to revive her. I did CPR but it was too late. Four years later, the scene still replays clearly in my mind. Such a waste of somebody with so much talent. I would trade places with her if I could.”

These words, by a former patient of Sanca Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Johannesburg, capture the devastation of losing someone you love to an overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day, held on 31 August each year, gives people a chance to remember those who passed on due to an overdose of either a licit or an illicit substance.

Worldwide, people are encouraged to show their support by wearing a purple or silver ribbon.

Wedge Gardens commemorated the day by inviting the men undergoing rehab at the centre to light a candle in memory of someone they have lost.

“We are here today to commemorate all those who lost their lives, accidentally or otherwise, as a result of overdose,” said Adèl Grobbelaar, who heads up Wedge Gardens.

“Every overdose is a loss; those ignorant enough to say they deserved it have absolutely no understanding of the epidemic we are fighting. With every overdose, someone loses a son, daughter, friend or loved one. Nobody has the right to judge.

“My wish for you is that you will never feel that hopeless, that overdose appears the only way out. Remember we are here for you and we care.”

International Overdose Day aims to:

Raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death.

Acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends in remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Spread the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

* For help with addiction recovery, contact Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg. Visit or phone 010 534 6596.

Copyright Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre 2016