Tag Archives: rehab

Mindfulness is a great coping skill

MINDFULNESS: the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing.

Mindfulness a great coping skill, says Karen Griessel, a social worker at Sanca rehab centre Wedge Gardens in Johannesburg.

She writes:

It is fair to say that the world around us has changed significantly and for many, not for the better. It is important to find ways to help us cope with our challenges and emotions.

One great way of doing this is mindfulness. The goal of mindfulness is to wake up the inner workings of our mental, emotional and physical processes.

For people recovering from substance abuse, mindfulness can really add to the healing process. Acceptance of your thoughts and owning your feelings without judging yourself is very helpful in releasing tension and anger.

On other words, just allow yourself to feel and be whatever you need to be.

I personally have found mindfulness Apps very helpful as a guided process, especially for beginners.

Here are a few Apps that are popular to get you started on becoming a more serene individual:

  • Meditation and relaxation pro
  • The Mindfulness app
  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • 10% Happier
  • Breethe


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Faith versus fear


During these trying times, a common experience many are having is the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds.

There have been many job losses and few opportunities exist. Then there is the pressure to maintain livelihoods within the challenges of families and relationships. If substance abuse is added to the mix, it paints a dim and unsettling picture.

Fear of the future not only keeps people trapped in addiction, it also prevent them from making progress in recovery. The most common fears that people experience include financial insecurity, worry about how they will cope without alcohol or drugs, death, disease and illness, relationship worries or that recovery is bland and boring with no happiness, good feelings or the temporary comfort substances offer.

Another trap so many of us fall into so often is worrying about things that have not happened – or may even never happen. It is hard for people to let go of their concerns over what may happen and instead focus on that which is in their control, which is preparing for the future.

The opposite of fear is faith, which is defined as believing in that which is unseen in the hope that all will work out for the good if we do the right thing.

Others forms of faith include having faith in one’s own ability or in trusting others like a therapist or a support group or a trusted friend or loved one. Even better is having faith in a higher power for strength beyond understanding. A faith community also gives a person support and structure, which may increase feelings of hope and the chance of recovery.

There is no amount of evidence that will convince someone during active addiction that they can do without the substances because the individual must be willing to take a leap of faith to get the recovery ball rolling.

To contact Wedge Gardens, call 010 534 6596 or visit www.wedgegardens.co.za

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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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 www.wedgegardens.co.za

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 www.wedgegardens.co.za

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.

The power of positivity

#SancaWedgeGardens #Rehab

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 www.wedgegardens.co.za

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

June 26 highlights International Day against Drug Abuse

Take a moment on June 26 to consider how drug abuse has the potential to tear apart families and even communities.

Since 1987, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking has taken place on June 26 to raise awareness of this debilitating social problem.

Wedge Gardens rehabilitation centre, situated just outside of Johannesburg, supports the Listen First initiative. Its aim is to get adults to listen to children and youth because this is seen as the first step to helping them grow up healthy and safe.

Wedge Gardens social worker Karen Griessel explains that Listen First in an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime.

“Conversation about drug use must start with children and youth to educate them about the realities they will face: on the playground, in their communities and later, even in their workplace,” says Karen.

Talk often and listen openly, she advises. “Conversations between individuals, schools and communities need to be promoted. Listen with an open mind, ready to learn and grow. Handle conversations respectfully, without judgement, assumption or bias.”

The Listen First project looks at demand and supply statistics, human rights, emerging challenges, new psychoactive drugs and national sentencing policies, with an obvious focus on prevention and treatment.

Karen says that last year 190 000 people died of drugs globally. This figure does not take into consideration the health implications – like TB, HIV and hepatitis – of those using drugs or the increased prevalence of drug trafficking and drug-related gangsterism.

According to the World Drug Report, synthetic and psychoactive drugs being spread through modern cybercrime and dark-net business deals is of concern. Development, health, peace and human rights are being attacked on a severe scale due to drug use worldwide.

* 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).