Tag Archives: Rand Aid Association

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 www.wedgegardens.co.za.

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 www.wedgegardens.co.za or call 011 430 0320.

Synthetic drugs, the monster creeping in and killing our youth

The recent videos that have created a storm across social media highlight the dangers facing our children.

Several children who smoked what was an unknown substance had to be rushed to hospital where they were treated for symptoms including seizures, psychosis, nausea, vomiting and hallucinations. At least 14 people were hospitalised after smoking the substance on the last weekend in October.

Karen Griessel, a social worker at Wedge Gardens rehab centre in Johannesburg, said that the increasing popularity of potentially-deadly synthetic herbs is a massive concern. Particularly worrying is the number of young children who expose themselves to synthesised chemicals while experimenting with what they often think are natural herbs.

The message is clear: Stay away from any substance similar to marijuana because one hit could land you in hospital.

In October 2016, Karen spoke out about patients who had used these cannabinoids,  also called K2, Spice or Herb Blend, amongst other names. She also went undercover to prove how easy it is to purchase the substance.

“My concerns regarding this unregulated substance is that it is freely available and because the chemical compound changes in every other batch produced, it is a difficult task to pinpoint, prevent and, especially, to treat.

“However, the symptoms of smoking these herbs have obviously escalated to a whole new level which should not be underestimated – as illustrated so graphically in the videos currently doing the rounds.

“I think it is of major importance that a national education campaign around these substances be held. We need to protect our children and loves ones. The younger generations, many of whom are still naïve, are most vulnerable.”

She says the symptoms – violent temper tantrums, aggression, irrational behaviour, impaired mobility, slurred speech, panic attacks, seizures, reduced or elevated blood pressure, delusion, confusion and psychosis – are of grave concern.

“There are also rumours that the synthetic herbs are being laced with Flakka which could have terrifying outcomes because both are extremely dangerous drugs.”

Flakka is a synthetic drug but a cathinone similar to cocaine and bath salts (psychoactive designer drug). Symptoms include hyperactivity, strength, agitation, delirium and psychosis, changes in heart rate, cardiomyopathy and heart attacks.

“Now can you imagine mixing this deadly cocktail? More should be done across all sectors to safeguard our citizens. And citizens should be made aware and educated whilst the shops selling these products so openly should be exposed.

“Please use this information and share with others so we can be empowered to fight this enemy. If you have any information regarding these drugs and the shops selling them, please do the right thing and report it.”

Wedge Gardens can be contacted at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or visit their website – www.wedgegardens.co.za

Wedge Gardens interviewed on Health Matters: Drug Awareness Week

Watch the Health Matters video in which Host Dr Yakub Essack talks about Drug Awareness Week with Wedge Gardens’ Adel Grobbelaar to understand the medical issues and signs of drug addicts as well as where and how to treat an addict. #WedgeGardens #KickYourHabit

Wedge Gardens: Committed to fighting substance abuse

Wedge Gardens is available to do drug and alcohol abuse awareness talks at schools and in workplaces.

The Sanca-affiliated rehabilitation centre, situated close to both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, offers a diversion programme for employees whose work is being affected by addiction issues and who may thus need counselling or rehabilitation. This is in addiction to a full range of holistic substance abuse treatment programmes.

For further information, call 011 430 0320.

Wedge Gardens: Committed to fighting substance abuse

Committed to fighting drug and alcohol abuse

Wedge Gardens is available to do drug and alcohol abuse awareness talks at schools and in workplaces.

The Sanca-affiliated rehabilitation centre, situated close to both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, offers a diversion programme for employees whose work is being affected by addiction issues and who may thus need counselling or rehabilitation. This is in addiction to a full range of holistic substance abuse treatment programmes.

Always ready to help raise addiction awareness, Wedge Gardens participated in Rothe Plantscapers’ recent employee wellness day.

“We sent two staff members to talk about addiction and abuse, as well as what those affected can do to get help for either themselves or family members,” says Wedge Gardens’ Adel Grobbelaar.

Promotional material was also handed out.

For further information, call Gardens’ Adel at 011 430 0320.

World-wide Worry – Social networking addiction

By: Karen Griessel, Social Worker at Rand Aid’s Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre

World-wide Worry is a phrase used to refer to someone who spends too much time using Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and other forms of social media – to the point that it interferes with other aspects of their daily life.

The cluster of behaviours associated with the heavy or excessive use of social media has become the subject of research.

Generally, addiction usually refers to compulsive behaviour that leads to negative consequences – when people feel compelled to do certain activities, which become a harmful habit that interferes with their responsibilities and activities.

A social networking addict could be considered someone who constantly needs to check their status updates or stalks others’ profiles for hours on end.

Does spending three to five or even seven hours a day online mean one is addicted, or could one argue that they are just networking or gaining information?

Researchers have found that self-disclosure stimulates the brain’s pleasure sensors much like sex and food do. With this physiological and biological addictive undertone, this finding is rather alarming.

Anxiety is a definite symptom of not being able to do an activity. For example, when a smart phone’s battery dies or there is no data, WiFi or electricity available.

Further research is exploring the impact of social networking on real-world relationships, especially marriage, and some have questioned whether the excessive use of social media could play a role in divorce – because it weakens human ties and ironically leaves the individual feeling more alone.

The big question then is, can social media use develop into a pathology or mental disorder? We know, for sure, that it has the potential to cause long-term damage to our emotions, behaviour and relationships. The harm lies in a person’s change in behaviour, which has been linked to depression and loneliness.

There is an unrealistic expectation that your online friends will be there for you in real life, which is rarely the case. The problem with social media is that self-image relies mainly on others and their opinions.

There is no recognised treatment for social media addiction. Although there is research being done on it, there is no social media addiction classification.

For more information about Wedge Gardens Treatment Centre, visit www.wedgegardens.co.za, email: wedgegardens@randaid.co.za or call 011 430 0320 or 071 690 4942.

Wedge Garden’s kings and their queen beat boredom

Things are a lot more black and white at Wedge Gardens treatment centre these days.

The long-anticipated giant outdoor chessboard has been completed and is being enjoyed by the gentlemen at Wedge Gardens.

“A special mention needs to be made of those individuals who made yet another occupational therapy department (OT) project possible,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the OT department and played a big role in the project. “Our thanks go to Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown and the Rand Aid Association, groundsman George Vermeulen and his team, as well as the patients at Wedge Gardens.”

Leisure boredom – or unproductive free time – is considered a precipitating factor in addiction and substance use. The OT department at Wedge Garden strives to instil balance within the lives of the patients at the rehabilitation facility by stressing that through meaningful occupational engagement, an individual is better able to cope with life stressors, feel a sense of worth and meaning within society and find enjoyment in healthy and constructive activity participation.

“Not only is the chessboard a space for the gentlemen to learn to use their time in a productive manner, but it is an area at Wedge Gardens where they can learn social and cognitive skills,” says Kendra.

It is a known fact that substance abuse negatively impacts cognitive health. “A chessboard is a fantastic mechanism to promote cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, memory, problem solving, judgement and executive tasks. Furthermore, as the game requires at least two players, the patients at Wedge are exposed to social interaction, which aids communication and conflict management skills,” says Kendra.

The OT department believes that through the creation and completion of projects such as the chessboard, the patients at Wedge Gardens learn numerous skills on an ongoing basis.

As such, they were involved in the planning and construction of the project and the procurement of donations. “A sense of altruism is instilled in the patients because when they end their treatment programme, they leave having been a part of a project that can be used by future patients.

“I am exceptionally proud of my patients and the work they have done to complete another OT project. Through encouraging proactive use of the facilities at Wedge Gardens, we are equipping our patients with skills for the re-integration into society, which is fundamental to any recovery programme.”

Sanca happily settled at Wedge Gardens

After relocating last year, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is settled in at Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst, just outside of Johannesburg.

Both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is situated in extensive grounds easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens officially become a member of the Sanca family in 2016 after going through the approval process with Sanca’s National Management Board.

“With the Sanca head office on the premises of Wedge Gardens, a closer working relationship has been established. Numerous clients have been referred for treatment through the website and WhatsApp helpline. In addition, other stakeholders visiting the National Sanca Office get to know about Wedge Gardens,” says Sanca spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen.

“Wedge Gardens offers a safe, secure and welcoming environment. We feel at home and have received excellent support from the maintenance and gardening services,” she adds.

“The management of Wedge Gardens, Ayanda Matthews and Adel Grobbelaar, has been wonderful and helped us settle in. It is a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

“As one of the oldest rehabilitation centres in the country, Wedge Gardens is one of the flagships of the type of services which should ideally be provided to treat substance use disorders in South Africa,” says Adrie.

Established in 1956, Sanca has a proud history of contributing to the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. It has evolved over the years to meet modern challenges and today boasts an Academy of Learning that offers Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses for those who have a passion for working with people.

“We offer a basic counselling course and online courses,” says Adrie.

Sanca has a presence in eight of the country’s nine provinces. Wedge Gardens is one of 30 Sanca treatment centres.

“We are proud to be part of this hard-working and effective non-profit organisation,” says Ayanda.

* For further information on Sanca or to enrol for one of the courses offered, visit their website www.sancanational.info. You can also use their WhatsApp helpline: 076 535 170.

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320 or visit their website: www.wedgegardens.co.za



Nursing veteran joins Wedge Gardens team

With two decades of experience in the healthcare field, Wedge Garden’s new deputy manager and professional charge nurse brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that complements the substance abuse treatment centre’s dedicated professional team.

Kempton Park resident Estelle Raath joined Wedge Gardens on February 1, 2018.

“As part of Wedge Garden’s multi-disciplinary team, I am hoping to add the experience gained in many disciplines to Wedge Gardens and to the patients,” she says.

One of her past positions was at another Gauteng-based rehabilitation centre. “I gained lots of experience in the field of addiction and found that I have an affinity for it.”

Estelle completed her B.Cur degree in 1995 through Potchefstroom University and registered as a nursing sister (general, community, midwifery and psychiatry).

During her training, she worked at various hospitals including Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Witrand Rehabilitation Centre, Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital, Tara Moross Psychiatric Hospital and various community nursing clinics.

Before joining Wedge Gardens, she was unit manager medical ward: Life Dalview Hospital. Before that she was nursing service manager: Elim Clinic. Estelle has vast experience in occupational health, as a maternity and labour ward sister and as a theatre sister. She also did a stint in Saudi Arabia.

A fan of evolving with the times, Estelle has completed a number of short courses.

“Since starting at Wedge Gardens, everyone has welcomed me and made me feel as if I am an old colleague. Team members and all patients at Wedge are amazing and I am truly blessed to be working here,” she says.